Mandatory challengers can be a good thing in boxing, sometimes rewarding a hard-working, talented, under-represented fighter with a title shot that he or she may not have been granted otherwise.
Mandatory challengers can sometimes be a chore for fight fans, though, and there’s a reason that the term has a sort of negative reputation among the public. Too often, mandatory challengers are unqualified fighters that sanctioning bodies are forcing into a title fight nobody really wants to see.
Saturday’s fight between WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale is a mandatory defense that falls somewhere in the middle, I’d say. It wouldn’t even be happening except that Tyson Fury walked away from an ordered and desired rematch with Wilder.
But beyond that, Breazeale is hardly under-represented or anything. He’s a PBC fighter, just like Wilder. And while he’s borderline top 10 in the division, he’s not a ridiculous challenger; he’s top 15 at worst.
Wilder shared his thoughts on the mandatory situation:
Mandatories are like flies, and sometimes you gotta be the fly swatter. #BombZquad #TilThisDay #WilderBreazeale #May18th pic.twitter.com/wtsY4rvWyP— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) May 13, 2019
“Mandatories to me is like flies in your ear, always buzzing around, and at some point in time you gotta be the fly swatter and catch that fly. On May 18, that bug will be done, finished, capisce,” he says in a promo for Saturday’s fight.
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO) is the big favorite against Breazeale (20-1, 18 KO), who was outclassed and stopped in his previous heavyweight title challenge against Anthony Joshua in 2016. So more likely than not, yes, Wilder is going to be the “fly swatter” on Saturday night.
I will say that fly swatters don’t really “catch” flies, but I get that in a good-natured promo piece you can’t go around saying you’re gonna kill a guy, although that’s something Wilder has not been shy about screaming in the past.