Joshua makes Breazeale defence before potential heavyweight unification showdown
Lee Gormley | April 26, 2016
Joshua back in the ring June 25th
After emphatically dispatching Charles Martin inside two rounds at the O2 Arena to be crowned world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua will return to the scene of his grandest career triumph to make the first defence of his IBF title against another American Dominic Breazeale on June 25th.
The British heavyweight champion stormed to victory earlier this year by dethroning Martin with a devastating second-round stoppage, the 16th consecutive knockout of his short but sweet professional career, and London will again play host to his next ring outing.
Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) overcome compatriot and long-standing rival Dillian Whyte before that world title victory, with the 26-year-old now odds-on 1/10 with Coral to stop undefeated challenger Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs) this summer.
IBF champion excited for first defence
Following his 16th successive KO which earned him a maiden world title triumph, the Watford-born heavyweight is relishing the opportunity to headline another billing at the O2 Arena, and is excited to face former Olympian Breazeale.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to fight again, especially at The O2 which I have made my fortress,” said Joshua.
“My coaches have watched Breazeale for a long time and they knew he was going to be a player in the division and now we get the chance to go to war on June 25.
“It’s sure to be explosive, both of us like to let our hands go and score knockouts, we are both undefeated and both have Olympic pedigree.
“I am looking to get past Breazeale in style and continue moving towards the unification fight everybody is waiting for.”
Joshua became only the second British fighter after James DeGale to win both an Olympic Gold medal and a world title, as well we being the first heavyweight to do so, but the hard hitting champion is 9/1 to suffer a shock defeat this summer.
Who is Breazeale?
The reigning IBF champion’s next opponent will take to the London ring for what will be his first professional bout outside of the United States, and enters proceedings on the back of an unconvincing win over Amir Mansour in January.
Breazeale, now 30 years of age, has stopped 15 of his 17 opponents since turning pro back in 2012, following his 2012 Olympic Games preliminary round loss to Magomed Omarov, and the Californian had to climb from the canvas last time out before an eventual retirement ahead of the sixth round.
The 6ft 7in contender, who previously played quarter-back for the University of Colorado, is ranked 13th in the IBF standings, below both former world champion David Haye and Derek Chisora, and declared he will put up more of a fight than compatriot Martin.
“We are both 2012 Olympians, undefeated, and pack a punch. The United States of America versus Great Britain. I want to go back to London and finish what I didn’t in 2012,” said Breazeale.
“I am not going to lay down like Charles did…”
“Instead of the gold medal, I want the IBF title, and I guarantee you I’m bringing it back to the United States where it belongs.
“When I first heard that I was possibly going to fight Joshua for the title I was extremely excited. I have been thinking about this daily.
“This is an opportunity that every fighter dreams and hopes of. I’m sure Joshua felt the same way when he first found out he was going to fight Martin for the title. The only difference is that I am not going to lay down like Charles did and hand the belt over.”
The Alhambra-born challenger is 11/1 to be the first man to stop Joshua and derail the Briton’s incredible rise to boxing prominence, but the champion will aim to enjoy another quick night’s work in London before a potential unification showdown.
Unification bout on the horizon
If Joshua can overcome Breazeale as expected, he will edge closer to a high-profile unification meeting with WBA super, WBO and IBO title holder Tyson Fury, who is 7/4 to outpoint Wladimir Klitschko once again in their awaited rematch on July 9th.
The latter heavyweight champion has been constantly taking verbal shots at Joshua since before the Martin bout, building tensions ahead of what could be a mammoth all-British battle between two of the best in the division.
If, or when, the two British world heavyweight champions do collide, Fury would enter the fight as the 11/10 outsider, with Joshua seen as the odds-on 8/11 favourite, as the duo continue their well documented online feud.
Manchester-born title holder Fury recently hit back at Joshua’s remarks about his physique, adding to the war of words with: “We all do weights obviously because we are heavyweights, but I am never going to be Mr Universe and I don’t need to be. I am a fighting man.
“That’s what I am. I am a natural fighter. I am the Gipsy King. I don’t need muscles – and you can’t put muscles on your chin. I’ve beaten plenty of six packs, don’t worry about that.”
After dethroning Ukrainian Klitschko in Germany last year, Fury will hold home advantage this time out in their anticipated rematch at the Manchester Arena in July, and the 27-year-old is 4/1 to rally to his 19th career stoppage in front of an electric Lancashire crowd.
IBF champion Joshua will undoubtedly be a very interested onlooker that night in Manchester, providing he gets the job done himself against Breazeale in June, as a potentially epic British heavyweight showdown looms large later this year.