Wilder announced he will make the ninth defense versus Dominic Breazeale -Wilder-Breazeale, a legitimate grudge match, came to fruition through a series of unexpected events—much like Wilder’s pro career. It was his daughter Naieya’s battle with spina bifida that caused him to take up boxing. The three jobs he already held would not cover mounting medical bills.
That led to an improbable 2008 Olympic run where Wilder won bronze, and then to the pro ranks, where “The Bronze Bomber” is now one of boxing’s longest reigning champions.
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) has always had a strong belief in destiny—and himself. He was initially slated to face former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in a rematch of last December’s Showtime PPV. The first fight was one of the most dramatic heavyweight bouts since, well, Wilder’s thrilling TKO win over Luis Ortiz in March 2018.
Fury’s miraculous recovery from a 12th-round knockdown went viral; the fight ended in a disputed draw verdict.
Wilder believes he won but wasn’t pleased with his performance.
“I rushed things,” said Wilder. “It was my first PPV. How you perform and what you do is very important. I tried to give the fans a devastating KO and rushed it. Just the excitement of it all got to me.”
Rematch talks began almost immediately afterward. When both parties agreed to all terms, the contract was sent over to Team Fury to sign.
“It was about five days to a week and no word,” Wilder recalled. “[Wilder manager] Shelly Finkel and [Fury promoter] Frank Warren, they always talking. To make the first fight was easy, they stayed in contact. This one was different. They weren’t answering the phone so we knew something fishy was going on.”
On Monday, February 18, Fury announced a multi-fight, co-promotional deal with Top Rank Promotions. The deal effectively killed the Wilder rematch.
“What challenger do you know won’t take a rematch after they feel they got robbed?” asked Wilder. “If you think you won so easy, then why not do it again for big money? But that wasn’t the case. They had to look out for themselves and put themselves in the best position for them.
“I did the appropriate thing. Many people felt our fight was controversial so I gave him the rematch. I think he should have taken our deal while it was on the table. He got his new deal because they thought I was going to be a part of it. I mean, if I don’t give him that rematch, they’re going to be sick.”
Wilder was also offered a multi-fight contract by Top Rank, which he turned down.
“The thing about having freedom is that it allows you to dictate your career,” Wilder said. “When you sign with people, now they’re in control. We’ve seen many fighters get into situations with promoters and get put on the shelf. They have families they need to feed but they aren’t in control. You don’t want to be tied up for a long time.”
That last point was hammered home last Tuesday, when Wilder and his team met with executives from sports streaming app, DAZN. Again, Wilder was offered a multi-fight agreement. This one included a potential unification bout versus fellow heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.