Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale met in the ring on Saturday night, settling their feud in the culmination of a fractious rivalry fuelled by a controversial build-up.
WBC champion Wilder caused outrage by suggesting that he would relish seriously injuring Breazeale in the fight, intensifying the animosity between the pair and sparking anger among pundits and boxers.
Having only previously lost to unbeaten Londoner Anthony Joshua, the physically imposing Breazeale was expected to test Wilder in his ninth defence of his world heavyweight title.
Bullish Wilder emerged in threatening fashion, sending Breazeale towards the ropes before the challenger hit back with a promising shot of his own.
Wilder, who sent former unified champion Tyson Fury to the canvas in a shuddering second knockdown during their widely debated draw in December 2018, had promised fireworks and an early finish for his game opponent.
The Alabama giant delivered exactly that with a thunderous right hand 43 seconds before the end of the opening round, detonating on the chin of Breazeale to leave the Californian unable to beat the count.
Devastated Breazeale dodged interviews in the aftermath of his dismal defeat, leaving Wilder to answer more questions about potential bouts with Fury and Joshua.
IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua needed seven rounds to see off Breazeale in 2016, indicating that a fight with the heavy-handed Wilder could provide the toughest test of the British superstar’s all-conquering career to date.
Fury and Wilder have unfinished business following their compelling contest in Los Angeles, when the majority of commentators questioned the scorecards after Fury appeared to have won the majority of the rounds.
Wilder has won 41 of his 42 fights, including a victory last year over Cuban Luis Ortiz, who approached him in the ring to demand a rematch after his brutal knockout of Breazeale.
Fight fans have been left frustrated by rumours that negotiations between Wilder’s team and Joshua’s representatives have proved complex, but the 33-year-old said: “The big fights will happen the way we all benefit.
“All parties involved are talking. There are too many people and opinions involved.
“We risk our lives in here, so let us get our time to iron out our differences and you guys will know when it happens.”
I’ve told him I love him and I want to see him go home to his family
The Bronze Bomber had elaborated on the risks boxers face in the days leading up to his brief beating of Breazeale, telling reporters that he would be willing to kill in the ring.
His post-fight comments struck a more considered tone as he declared his rapid victory was the result of having “stuff to overcome.”
Pointing out that he had hugged and kissed Braezeale, Wilder said: “I wish the world was like that – handle things with our hands and then live to see another day.
“I’ve told him I love him and I want to see him go home to his family.”
With all three men involved in different broadcasting deals, it remains unclear whether the feted fights between the current leading trio in heavyweight boxing will ever take place.
Joshua defends his titles in his first appearance in the US on June 1, although little is expected of against Andy Ruiz Jr, the opponent drafted in following scheduled challenger Jarrell Miller’s failed drugs tests.
Fury takes on unheralded German fighter Tom Schwarz in Las Vegas later in the month.
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