Deontay Wilder produced a sensational first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale to retain his WBC world heavyweight title in New York.
Wilder, 33, flattened his fellow American with 43 seconds of the opening round left – taking his record to 41 wins and a draw from 42 bouts.
Breazeale was on the ropes early on before finding a solid shot to respond to the champion.
But Wilder finished the fight moments later with a huge right hand.
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After his victory, Wilder was approached by Cuba’s Luis Ortiz in the ring – a man he beat in 2018 – but when asked about potential contests with British heavyweights Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, said “no doors are closed” and that such fights “are in discussion”.
“All parties involved are talking,” Wilder told Showtime. “There’s too many people and opinions involved. It will take our teams to sit down, handle things, squash everything and get it done for the fans.
“The big fights will happen the way we all benefit. 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.”
Breazeale, 33, left the ring without talking to the media, fresh from a punch that left him sprawled on the canvas and unable to answer the count.
His counter-punch when cornered had briefly seen Wilder engage in a couple of grapples but – after a pause for breath – the champion followed a left-hand jab with a right to the jaw which was as accurate as it was destructive.
It was a 40th victory by knockout for Wilder and just a second career loss for Breazeale, following his 2016 defeat by Anthony Joshua.
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Wilder will face a World Boxing Council hearing for pre-fight comments where he again raised the prospect of an opponent dying in the ring.
“This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time,” Wilder had said in the build-up. “It’s legal.”
But afterwards Wilder spoke warmly about his beaten rival.
“Everything came out of me tonight,” Wilder told Showtime. “I know it’s been a big build-up, a lot of animosity, chaos and hatred to one another, a lot of words said. It just came out tonight.
“This is what makes boxing great. When you have stuff to overcome.
“I’ve told him I love him and I want to see him go home to his family. I know we say things we mean sometimes but when you get into a fight and settle your differences, if you can then hug him and kiss him, I wish the world was like that, handle things with our hands and then live to see another day.”
Wilder’s power a threat to the best
With this win, Wilder successfully defended his title for the ninth time, becoming only the 10th man to achieve that milestone in consecutive fights in the heavyweight division.
The Alabama fighter’s ring craft has at times been ridiculed because of his unorthodox nature, and a controversial draw with Fury in December led some to say he had been exposed when coming up against a skilled fighter.
What is undeniable is his vicious power, and a right hand that means he only needs to land sporadically to turn fights his way.
Fury, knocked down twice in their Los Angeles thriller, knows all about it – but will he face the threat in a rematch? And will we ever see Wilder and Joshua fight for the four world titles they possess?
Wilder said a rematch and the big fights will come but, with the three men signed to different broadcasters, each with their own financial goals, the biggest battles of all will need to take place at the negotiating table.
The American’s manager Shelly Finkel told BBC Sport that fights of such magnitude are more likely in 2020 so, for now at least, heavyweight focus turns to Joshua’s defence against American Andy Ruiz Jr on 1 June and Fury’s contest with German fighter Tom Schwarz two weeks later.
Wilder has done his part and can bask in the glory of a highlight reel knockout. His rivals cannot slip up in the coming four weeks.