FOR many Dominic Breazeale is not a natural fighter. A former American football player who switched to boxing and represented the USA at the 2012 Olympics and now challenges IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. But through the sport discovered a connection to the father he never knew.

“It’s in my blood, I learned that late,” Breazeale said. “I lost my mum back in December, very young, very, very short, at the time it came as almost a blessing in disguise. I learned a little about my father. My father wasn’t in my life but I was handed a box [of his mother’s], let’s say a keepsake, maybe a safebox, a memory box or whatnot. Inside it had a gumshield, boxing gloves, boxing shoes so of course I had to enquire, ask other family members about it. They were surprised that I had no idea. Here I was seven years into boxing and nobody told me my father was a standout amateur fighter and fought a little in the pros.

“I think my mum was trying to keep me away from it as long as she possibly could. Makes sense now when I told her when I was going to start boxing at 23 she thought I was crazy… It all sort of made sense when I opened up that box.”

Through several head-to-heads and media events Breazeale has been facing the champion this week. “We’re definitely able to size each other up,” Dominic said. “He’s seen in my face that I’m ready to go. It’s not necessarily that I’m tense. I’m ready for it to happen.

“Looking into his eye I wanted to see whether he’s going to break, whether he’s an emotional character, whatever it may be. As much as this is a physical game it is a mental game as well. I’ve got to take advantage of both of them.

“I’ve won every battle since I set foot over here, whether it be the last press conference where I rattled him a little bit on the grass … as well as coming out here and just being present, being here first, being the guys that’s stepping to him, being eye-to-eye, not looking away, not shying away. I would not say he’s physically showing it but mentally he’s rattled a little bit.”

For exclusive interviews and an in-depth preview of Joshua’s fight with Breazeale, check out this week’s issue of Boxing News.