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Wilder KOs Breazeale in 1st round to defend heavyweight belt

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

By BRIAN MAHONEY

AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) Deontay Wilder believes they are coming, the mega matchup with Anthony Joshua and the rematch with Tyson Fury.

Until then, he moved onto some business with Dominic Breazeale.

He took care of it quickly and emphatically.

Wilder got back into the win column Saturday night, knocking out Breazeale with an overpowering right hand in the first round to defend his heavyweight title.

"There's been a lot of animosity and a lot of words that were said and it just came out of me tonight," Wilder said.

Wilder hurt Breazeale with a right to the head early in their fight at Barclays Center, but the challenger had recovered from that early onslaught. But there was no coming back from the right later in the round that immediately dropped Breazeale, who was trying to get up as referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 2:17 of the round.

"When I hit him with the right hand the first time, his body language changed," Wilder said.

And with the last one, Breazeale's body language crumpled.

Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) was coming off his draw against Fury in December, the first fight of his pro career that wasn't a victory. He wanted a rematch with Fury or a unification match with fellow champion Joshua, but settled for a mandatory defense of his WBC title when those couldn't be made.

He ended it quickly, finishing off Breazeale (20-2) after being pushed hard in each of his last two fights.

Wilder weighed in at a little more than 223 pounds, a gain from the 209 he was at for the Fury fight, but still well below the 245 he set as a goal after feeling he was too small in that bout, in which he dropped Fury with a huge combination in the 12th round but had to settle for the draw when the challenger was able to get up and finish the fight.

An immediate rematch was expected before Fury surprisingly went another route.

"I understand what Tyson Fury did. When you get dropped on the canvas like that, I understand you have to get yourself back together," Wilder said. "But the rematch will happen, like all these other fights will happen. The great thing is all these fights are in discussion. The big fights will happen."

And Wilder won't need any more pounds as long as he still has one of the most feared right hands in boxing.

Breazeale had downplayed Wilder's power, saying heavyweights are supposed to hit hard. But he should certainly be a believer now.

He was challenging for a heavyweight title for the second time, having been stopped by Joshua in the seventh round three years ago in Britain. He said he had learned and grown from that fight, but there's nothing that could have prepared him for what faced in landing just two punches before 13,181 fans in Brooklyn.

"This was a situation where he landed the big right hand before I did," Breazeale said. "I thought I was going to come on in the later rounds. I'll be back and go for the heavyweight title again."

Wilder and Joshua was the fight just about everyone in boxing would prefer to see, but so far it's been all talk without seriously moving close to action.

Joshua will be making his U.S. debut at nearby Madison Square Garden on June 1, so perhaps they could try again afterward to negotiate a bout.

Wilder easily put aside the letdown of not fighting Joshua or Fury again because of his anger toward Breazeale over an altercation involving family members at an Alabama hotel in 2017. He went as far as to tout his ability to kill a man in the ring, remarks for which WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said would be addressed by the organization in a hearing.

Wilder was coming off tough tests in his last two bouts, getting rocked by Luis Ortiz in their March 2018 fight in this arena before stopping the Cuban in the 10th round, and needing a knockdown in the final round to secure the draw with Fury.

He looked like a picture of peace as he carried his young daughter into the arena about three hours earlier, but was back to making his case as boxing's baddest man once the fighting started.

In the other title fight on the card, Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) defended his piece of the featherweight title when the referee stopped his bout with Kiko Martinez (39-9-2) late in the fifth round on the advice of the ringside doctor because of a bad cut over the challenger's left eye.

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://twitter.com/briancmahoney

Updated May 19, 2019

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