For the second fight in a row, heavyweight talent Anthony Joshua put a fringe contender in a vice and exploded him. In Saturday’s fight on Showtime, the vice was applied slowly, but he kept the pressure on until Dominic Breazeale crumpled along the ropes in the 7th round.
The difference between Breazeale and Joshua’s last opponent, Charles Martin, was that Martin got compacted early, while Breazeale was super-tough. Breazeale was wobbled early by an uppercut (and Joshua was probably robbed a knockdown in the 2nd by the ref stepping between the two men for no reason). Joshua quickly rendered the right side of his face puffy. But he stayed up until the final round, and kept throwing.
That said: He didn’t throw very much. Breazeale was reluctant to open up after tasting Joshua’s power, which Joshua applied behind a sharp jab and patient, methodical attack. And when he opened up at all, we saw how clumsy he was in there, once more. He could land the occasional body shot, but mostly he wasn’t able to capitalize on Joshua’s remaining weaknesses, one of which is that he still leaves himself a little vulnerable when on the attack and inaccurate.
Breazeale was in a defense posture all fight long, and the admittedly biased David Haye — a domestic U.K. boxing rival — made a good point about how Joshua could’ve shown more imagination to get him out of his shell. Fact is, Joshua probably shouldn’t get too adventurous. He’s powerful and fast, but he learned after the Dillian Whyte fight that getting too carried away isn’t wise. He fought a patient fight, dominated every round and knew he’d get the decision or the KO would come.
As it happened, Joshua’s bloody nose set up the victory. Seeing crimson, Breazeale finally went on the attack in the 6th. If you were wondering why he didn’t do it sooner, you found out in the very next round. Suddenly it was Breazeale who left himself vulnerable while on the attack, giving Joshua the chance to open up with combinations. A series of blows sent Breazeale stumbling back, and Joshua landed another series to drop him, with a right hand down the middle doing the most damage. And when Breazeale steak-tough ass rose again, Joshua bit once more, trapping him in the corner, hurting him with an arcing hook and sending him down for good with a long left.
Joshua’s more or less the total package, with quickness, strength and Olympic pedigree. Yet he’s still getting better. Breazeale wasn’t a huge challenge (he was the 10th ranked fighter by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board) but he’s exactly the kind of guy Joshua should be fighting and improving against. In this, perhaps his finest performance, he did just that. While he wants the winner of Tyson Fury-Wladimir Klitschko II, he’d be better off getting more seasoning this year against opponent one notch above Breazeale and Martin, then tackling that size of game early or middle next year.