A few years back, a heavyweight experiment took place in Southern California, where large athletes from football and basketball looking for options tried boxing. Linebackers, receivers, forwards and quarterbacks participated.
Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale emerged from the pack and fought his way to the US Olympic team in 2012. The tall former quarterback from Northern Colorado showed power and an understanding of amateur boxing.
After the Olympics, the Southern Californian decided to continue with boxing in spite of the differences between amateurs and pros.
“In the amateurs it’s all about fundamentals and mastering the one-two. You kind of learn to score points from that. As a pro, especially in the heavyweight division, it’s all about imposing your will on another man,” said Breazeale who now trains in Ontario, Calif.
Breazeale, who stands 6’7” and weighs about 240, has taken his athleticism and zeal to win inside the boxing ring, where no one can protect him or suggest plays that can succeed. It’s one on one and only the strong survive.
So far, 13 fights in, Breazeale (13-0, 12 Kos) has survived and will meet Victor Bisbal (21-2, 15 Kos) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on March 7. It’s part of the extravaganza promoted by Goossen Promotions that will be televised on NBC.
“Its primetime TV and you couldn’t ask for anything more. Just to be on the same card and exposure with Adrien Broner, Robert Guerrero and Keith Thurman,” said Breazeale from outside his gym on a warm summer-like night in Ontario. “I can’t wait for that. It’s a great network on NBC and you couldn’t ask for more.”
Just a few weeks ago one of his stablemates Deontay Wilder from Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions captured the WBC heavyweight title. It was a revelation to Breazeale.
“I just liked the way he boxed him. Going in we knew that (Bermane) Stiverne was a little under-sized and Deontay had him as far as reach. He did a great job boxing him,” said Breazeale. “That’s one thing I kind of abandoned. Sometimes I like to get in the ring and just fight. I need to use my advantage. I need to use my reach. I need to use my jab and just stay consistent with that.”
Seeing Wilder win the WBC world title lit another fuse in the former Olympian.
“I think it just opens the door for us. All the other heavyweights out there know we’re coming to get all of the belts. Deontay Wilder has the WBC belt he won a couple of weeks ago, he boxed his butt off. They can’t say I don’t want the WBC belt because I want it too. Deontay better be on his toes about that situation. But there are plenty of belts out there to go around. We’re going to go after all of them,” Breazeale said.
After 13 pro fights is Breazeale ready?
A real fighter
Boxing trainer John Bray has seen many heavyweights come and go.
“You never know if someone can fight until they get hit,” said Bray, a former heavyweight too. “A lot of guys look good inside the ring and hit hard. But what happens when they get hit hard. That’s when you know if they’re really fighters.”
Bray cites several of Breazeale’s bouts where opponents were able to connect with painful shots. All it did was open up an arsenal of shots from the former Olympian. 2014 proved to be a good proving ground with opponents testing the heavyweight.
In January 2014, at Fantasy Springs Casino, a rather lumpy looking Homer Fonseca jumped in the ring to fans’ boos. They wanted to see a competitive match for Breazeale, so when Fonseca stepped between the ropes the fans were disappointed by his unimposing physique. When the fight began it was an explosion of blows. Fonseca came to fight and landed his share of bombs on Breazeale. Both refused to give ground and after three torrid rounds the fight was finally stopped. Breazeale had been tested thoroughly and showed he rather liked proving he could give and take in a real heavyweight battle. The fans saw a fight and others took note.
“He likes to fight. It’s so hard to find a big guy that likes to fight,” said Bray of his student Breazeale. “If you really think about him, there are a lot of big guys knocking people out. But as soon as they get hit, uh oh.”
Next up was Nagy Aguilera, a heavyweight gatekeeper most known for defeating a former heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev and also for his battles with Chris Arreola, Antonio Tarver and Tomasz Adamek. No one has an easy time with the Dominican, especially if he has time to train.
“It was one of those fights I learned from. I gained a lot of confidence from it. I did some good boxing skills, I did some fighting skills, a great inside game,” Breazeale recalled. “I hurt him with some shots, he hit me with a few good shots. It went well. It was a well experienced fight.”
Forced to go the distance, Breazeale unveiled his repertoire of boxing skills that had not been previously displayed. Early knockouts in his other fights had prevented fans from seeing all of his weaponry. Not against Aguilera, who wobbled but would not surrender. After eight rounds it went to a decision and Breazeale was declared the victor.
Bray was convinced he had a real heavyweight fighter.
“Here is a heavyweight that likes to fight. And he can punch. He has a great body attack and he’s coming up to the head. He showed that in the Nagy Aguilera fight,” said Bray. “You saw a little bit of that George Foreman with the pushing and stepping around. A little bit of that Jack Johnson with the picking and parrying. I think it’s just the beginning.”
Breazeale had passed his biggest test and now looks to reach contender status and perhaps go after a world title like Deontay Wilders,’ another of Haymon’s heavyweights.
“Here I am starting the third year and I’m looking to getting a belt at the end of this year for sure,” said Breazeale. “I always said I was going to be on the fast track and here I am.”
Bray likes his chances.
“I think that he went from suspect to prospect with the Nagy Aguilera fight. Hopefully he’s going to break through to the contender rankings,” said Bray. “I believe he’s going to be a heavyweight champion of the world. He has all the tools and he’s going to be an exciting heavyweight champion.”
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