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Dominic Breazeale vs. Izu Ugonoh

Dominic Breazeale vs. Izu Ugonoh Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, February 25, 2017
Where: Legacy Arena, Birmingham, Alabama
TV: Fox
Weight Class: Heavyweight
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Dominic Breazeale, 17-1 (15 KOs), Alhambra, California
Vs.
Izu Ugonoh, 17-0 (14 KOs), Las Vegas, Nevada

Betting Odds: Dominic Breazeale +135, Izu Ugonoh -165

Dominic Breazeale takes on Izu Ugonoh in a key heavyweight battle on the undercard of the Deontay Wilder vs. Andrzek Wawrzyk title bout from Birmingham on February 25. It's an appealing battle of big heavyweights, with Breazeale getting a chance to upgrade his contender status. In his last fight, he was stopped in an ambitious title try of Anthony Joshua and a win over a top prospect like Ugonoh would really put wind into his sails. For Ugonoh, this is a chance to notch a credible win. He certainly looks the part, but it's hard to really judge based on the opponents he has faced. This should give us a better idea.

A lot of people will look at these two fighters and notice a stark difference in their appearances. Breazeale is a well-conditioned athlete, but a loosely-put-together 6'7" with a ponderous vibe to him. Conversely, Ugonoh looks like he was carved from granite, a more nimble 6'5" with a body that resembles what someone would think of when imagining the perfect frame for a heavyweight. He's well muscled, but not in a cumbersome way. He just looks so much more "ripped" than Breazeale, but we must remember this is a fight and not a pose-down.

By the same token, Breazeale has some obvious drawbacks that aren't the kind of issues that can be fixed. There's a lumbering air to his fighting. Not that he's not athletic, but he's just not a very explosive athlete in an overall sense. He doesn't have that quick-twitch ability. Having gotten into the sport late after a background in college football, there's a lack of naturalness to his movements in the ring. At 31, he's been at it a long time and is certainly competent, but there's a certain innateness that fighters have who were brought up in the sport from a young age that Breazeale will never obtain. When watching him in the ring, it's clear that he lacks the talent to be a special fighter. Simply put, he's struck with a case of mediocrity that he'll never be able to fully shake.

That might paint an unflattering portrayal of Breazeale, but that wouldn't be doing justice, either. Against Joshua, a fighter with a 100% KO percentage, he showed a sneaky amount of competence. And while he didn't necessarily trouble Joshua, he showed himself to be something more than the sacrificial lamb some suspected he might be, lasting 7 rounds, which was considered a surprise to some. He is a big man at 6'7" and though it's not a plus that his background was in football, he brings a certain amount of athletic professionalism to his efforts. He's a guy with size and devotion—a serious and committed athlete who managed to work himself into being an Olympian and a professional world title challenger through sheer hard work and self-belief. While his in-ring work might not always be sterling, he's not someone who can be overlooked, either.

Breazeale's career is still somewhat undefined. Through 18 fights, the dye hasn't been cast yet. It's clear that his place among the top is problematic at best. Barring some bizarre sanctioning body snafu, he's not going to be a world champion. But a lot of good fighters aren't going to be champions, so where below that does he fit in? Again, it's still up in the air. But I think the likely place for Breazeale should his career continue on for several more years is that of a gatekeeper. If you're a serious heavyweight with a future, you need to beat Breazeale. By the same token, Breazeale will be able to beat those whose titles hopes ring less true. Where does Ugonoh fit into this equation?

Again, you won't find many heavyweights who look the part more than Ugonoh. He imposes a striking visage at 6'5" with a very athletic build. He has an imposing 84-inch reach. He came from the world of kickboxing, where he had some success, with his pro boxing debut coming in 2010. He fought all his bouts in Poland and New Zealand, where he trained under Kevin Barry and has been a training mate of current titlist Joseph Parker. In that camp, he developed some chops and recently moved to Vegas to take his career to the next level. With the added good work, Ugonoh has given himself the best chance to win. Born to Nigerian parents in Poland, he has been all over the globe to pursue this dream. At 30 and poised to meet his first real opponent, this is a critical time in his career.

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The concerns about Ugonoh aren't peculiar to him, but to just about every up-and-comer who has yet to prove himself. But his level of opposition is dicey and you just never know how his talents will translate at a level far above the company with whom he has shared a ring. Breazeale is no world-beater, but class is class and this is a substantial jump for the unbeaten prospect. He hasn't had the type of opponents that can really push him. Though I haven't seen all his fights, I've seen a large handful of them and he's been hurt before, most notably against 7-footer Julius Long in a 2015 fight. And Long, reduced to trialhorse status and picking up checks, has won just once since 2007.

With some high-level amateur action on his resume and a tougher pro career thus far, Breazeale's limitations are known, but he's more-proven. Sure, Breazeale has beaten his share of cream puffs, but before becoming only the second man to get past the 6th round against Joshua, he beat a dangerous heavyweight in Amir Mansour. Dropped twice and bleeding, Breazeale was able to brave the storm from the explosive Mansour and take advantage of a spent Mansour and force him to quit. He's no pushover and if there are any glaring weaknesses in an opponent's game, he's good enough to exploit it. I'm going to take a leap of faith with Ugonoh here and hope he's a real fighter underneath all the good signs. There's enough of a gap in potential and talent to warrant it, while keeping in mind we're backing an unproven commodity.

Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Izu Ugonoh at -165. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY and bet this fight from the comfort of home by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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