Preview: Wilder defends his belt in Birmingham Saturday, PBC on NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET

Deontay Wilder defends his WBC heavyweight title in front of his home state fans Saturday.

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Big men face off: Deontay Wilder (left) and Johann Duhaupas at their weigh-in Friday in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo: Lucas Noonan, Premier Boxing
Big men face off: Deontay Wilder (left) and Johann Duhaupas at their weigh-in Friday in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo: Lucas Noonan, Premier Boxing

SAN DIEGO, September 26, 2015 – It’s been a very good year for Alabama native Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder in 2015. In January, he won a surprising victory over Haitian born Bermane Stiverne, putting a heavyweight title back in American hands for the first time in nearly a decade.

In June, he put on a show for his home state fans, retaining his WBC title over a little regarded but surprisingly tough Texan, Eric Molina. Now Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) will offer what looks to be an encore in Birmingham at the Legacy Arena Saturday night against French heavyweight Johann Duhaupas (32-2, 20 KOs). Not exactly a household name even among boxing heads, Duhaupas is the number one ranked French heavyweight and a former European Union champion. This will be his first bout outside Europe.

At Friday’s weigh-in, the 6-7 Wilder weighed in at 228.6 pounds. Duhaupas, who is two inches shorter at 6-5, weighed 236 pounds.

It took Deontay Wilder nine surprising rounds to stop challenger Eric Molina in Birmingham last June. Photo: Stephanie Trapp,
It took Deontay Wilder nine surprising rounds to stop challenger Eric Molina in Birmingham last June. Photo: Stephanie Trapp,

Wilder, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games bronze medalist (hence his nickname), believes he’s one of several candidates to rise to the number one spot on the pound for pound rankings for boxers now that Floyd Mayweather has (in theory) retired. But like several of his rivals for this honor, the main criticism of Wilder is the lack of quality opposition. Stiverne helped legitimize Wilder’s standing and ambitions.


Fans are eager to see Wilder fight his mandatory opponent, Alexander Povetkin (29-1, 21 KOs), whose only loss was to the legitimate heir to the P4P crown, Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko. They’re even more eager to see him move on to Klitschko. With these bouts no closer than 2016, boxing fans might as well stop griping and enjoy watching Wilder put on a show, and hope Duhaupas provides some decent resistance before the pièce de résistance in the form of what would be knockout number 33.

PBC on NBC viewers will get to see a second heavyweight matchup in the co-feature event. Dominic Breazeale (15-0, 14 KOs), the 2012 London Olympic Games representative from California will from face Fred Kassi (18-3-1, 10 KOs) of Cameroon and now fighting out of New Orleans. Breazeale has been working his way up the same ladder of competition four years behind Wilder. He’s coming off a third round TKO against Cuban Yasmany Consuegra. Kassi presents an intriguing question mark. The lightly regarded journeyman is coming off a draw with longtime contender Chris Arreola in July. Was it a great night for Kassi, or a bad night for Arreola? You can’t help but root for Kassi, who is getting a make or break opportunity to work his way back into the division.

Dominic Breazeale (left) and Fred Kassi give fans a second heavyweight fight on the PBC broadcast Saturday in the co-feature. Photo: Lucas Noonan, Premier Boxing
Dominic Breazeale (left) and Fred Kassi give fans a second heavyweight fight on the PBC broadcast Saturday in the co-feature. Photo: Lucas Noonan, Premier Boxing

Breazeale, who could look Wilder in the eye at 6-7, weighed in at 258 pounds, the biggest heavyweight on the card by 20 pounds. Kassi, who is only six feet tall, weighed in at 222.6 pounds. Arreola was only three inches taller than Kassi; he will need to employ smart body punching and good timing to have his puncher’s chance.

Whatever your opinion of the matchups, bringing high level professional boxing to venues beyond Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York is a net positive for the sport. Wilder can pack the house in Birmingham. Terence Crawford can do the same in Omaha. It creates a new generation of appreciative fans who develop a long term love and loyalty for the sport.

Klitschko bout with Fury postponed: Heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko was forced to postpone his October 24 title defense in Dusseldorf, Germany against British challenger Tyson Fury on Friday. Klitschko posted a message to fans on his Instagram account, reporting a tear to his left calf suffered in training on Thursday. Upon the recommendation of his physician after an exam including an MRI, Klitschko said he would need to postpone the fight for a indefinite period of time, likely several weeks at minimum.

See Klitschko’s announcement here.

K2 Promotions said tickets for October 24 would remain valid for the rescheduled date. The ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf was a sell-out with 55,000 people expected.

Klitschko (64-3, 54 KOs), and Fury (24-0, 18 KOs), one of his mandatory challengers, were due to meet in a much-anticipated fight on Oct. 24 at the ESPRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany, where a sold-out crowd of around 55,000 was expected.

On Wednesday, one of the more bizarre pre-fight news conferences took place with Fury, dressed up like Batman, crashing Klitschko’s session with the media, leaping over the podium to “beat up” a man dressed as the Joker, saying he would do the same to Klitschko

Throughout pre-fight interviews and again on Wednesday, Klitschko said Fury was most likely mentally ill, and that he needed a therapist. Klitschko called Fury a “clown” a week ago in a conference call interview with Communities Digital News, and repeated the comment again after Fury crashed his event, offering to hook him up with some of the professional clowns he knows after the fight so he can pursue a job. Known as “Dr. Steelhammer” both for his intellect (he holds a Ph.D) and his strength, Klitschko has enjoyed toying with Fury and his antics like a cat does with a mouse.

Fury was understandably let down by the postponement of the fight. “Well it’s official, Klitschko has pulled out of the fight with an injury in his leg,” Fury also said. “It’s a bit funny as I predicted this would happen! Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll be OK. I’m sorry for the fans. Sorry, guys.”

Klitschko has postponed fights due to injury in the past including last year against Kubrat Pulev.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News when quoting from or linking to this story.  

 

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