No One Should Take Issue With Joshua Fighting Breazeale In First Defense

It was recently announced that IBF heavyweight title holder Anthony Joshua will make the first defense of his title on June 25th at the 02 Arena in Greenwich, London. His opponent, American Dominic Breazeale 17-0 (15), who competed at the 2012 Olympics when Joshua won a gold medal, last fought in January against Amir Mansour who entered the bout 22-1-1 (16). Breazeale lost all five rounds of the fight and was dropped in the third round. However, Mansour accidentally bit his tongue nearly in half and couldn’t breathe through his mouth or nose. Despite leading on all three scorecards 50-44, he retired on his stool after the fifth round and Breazeale won the vacant WBC Continental America’s title.

Since the fight has been announced most observers have been negative about it, the thought being Breazeale after only 17 fights and 57 rounds boxed as a pro – isn’t ready for Joshua who has only fought 16 times and boxed 34 rounds as a professional. Okay, that’s a fair point, but in all honesty, how many heavyweights in the world not carrying the last name Fury, Klitschko, Wilder, Ortiz or Haye are ready for Joshua? Recently everyone has been saying how exciting the heavyweight division has become, and to a point that is true. But they miss the point in that it’s only exciting and potentially drama filled at the top, between the top five or six guys. After that it’s littered with tweeners and no hopes. So in reality, Joshua cannot fight a killer every time he defends the title because there simply aren’t enough of them.

I have no problem with Joshua defending the title against Breazeale……Anthony just won the title on April 9th. By the time he meets Breazeale in late June, he will have owned the belt for roughly 10 weeks, and that’s not nearly enough time to promote and hype a potential big clash with any of the elite heavyweights holding down spots 1-5. Joshua, if he’s smart, and apparently he is, needs to stay active and in front of the viewing public. He’s getting a lot of attention now and some see him as potentially the best heavyweight prospect since a young Mike Tyson, or the next Lennox Lewis, a fighter whom I consider one of the all-time top-10 heavyweight greats.

For those who say Breazeale is such a terrible opponent for Joshua at this stage of his career, consider the following…..In his 17th bout Tyson fought Mike Jameson 14-9, Lennox Lewis fought Glenn McCrory 28-6, Riddick Bowe fought Jesus Contreras 9-0-1, Vitali Klitschko fought Levi Billups 21-16-1 and Wladimir Klitschko fought Marcus McIntyre 15-1 who ended his career a respectable 24-3. It’s a fact that most heavyweight hopefuls with the upside of Joshua don’t face the likes of Ray Mercer, Oliver McCall or Ron Lyle on the way up. Yes, Joshua holds the IBF title, but with only 34 rounds fighting as a pro under that belt, he still has a lot to learn.

Breazeale at best is a fringe contender, even by today’s standards, and stepping stone along the way to bigger fights down the road for Joshua. He’s a former national amateur champion who can punch a little bit if he catches you. Yes, he lost in his first match at the Olympics but has shown that he has the heart to get up. On the down side, he’s slow of both hand and foot, his offense lacks imagination and there’s not much to his defense. In some ways he’s not even as formidable as the fighter Joshua beat for the title, Charles Martin. But that’s boxing and fighters must fight whoever is out there and available.

At this time all that can be asked of Joshua is that he improves, stays active and does what he’s supposed to do when confronted by limited opposition. Rest assured that Joshua will most likely dispose of Dominic Breazeale in the same manner he did Charles Martin. After that he’ll face another challenger who should provide him a more stern challenge. And by the end of the year the drum-beat and build up for him to fight the winner of the Tyson Fury-Wladimir Klitschko rematch or the winner of the Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin WBC title clash will have begun. Once those wheels are set in motion, there will be a few big heavyweight title bouts to look forward to and ponder by the end of this year or early next year.

With that being said, don’t be surprised if Joshua, after stopping Breazeale, faces a fighter who resembles Breazeale in appearance and record in his next bout. But that’s okay, as long as you keep in mind that he’s staying active while giving others a shot at the title while at the same time bouts with one of the other top-5 heavyweights, excluding Luis Ortiz, because nobody, including Joshua wants to fight him, are in the maturation process.

When closely examining the opposition that Tyson, Lewis, Bowe and both Klitschkos fought in their 17th bout, Dominic Breazeale isn’t all that bad of a choice. He’s certainly more formidable and dangerous than were Mike Jameson, Glenn McCrory, Jesus Contreras, Levi Billups or Marcus McIntyre. And since we know Joshua will eventually be fighting the best of the best in the near future, we can live with him defending the title against Dominic Breazeale rather than sitting on his hands waiting for super fights.

As of this writing Joshua is considered the man to beat in the heavyweight division. Aside from Ortiz, I would favor Anthony to beat everyone else in the division. So when all is said and done, regardless of who Joshua fights in the future, he’ll be the favorite and presumed winner.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at



Comment on this article



-Kid Blast :

Agreed Frank. I base my agreement on the similarities to Wilder's beginning. Also, "Not only is Breazeale the easiest of the pickins of this bunch, but, like Martin, he also is part of the Al Haymon camp. So cashing in on Breazeale's less-than-spectacular unbeaten record not only gives a once-in-a-lifetime payday for Breazeale, but it also continues good will between Haymon, Hearn, and Joshua, with future mountainous paydays in various currencies lying just ahead."

-Radam G :

I was wondering when this piece would hit. And WOW! AJ is dancing with an AmerKano footballer who could not cut it in his sport. Dominic Breazeale is going to get slaughtered. Nevertheless, AJ is not all that and a bag of chips. I would favor three heavies that would beat him. And two others who would have a good chance. Holla!

-Bernie Campbell :

Gotta concur Radam Klitschko osigned a long term television deal with a renowned communications outfit before the Jennings fight that he was to guarantee 10 more televised matches. In my opinion he still cleans out the division and makes mintz meat out of any fighter in the division even after the age of 40.

-Skibbz :

It's interesting, at the start of the year several boxing pundits and trainers in the UK including Johnny Nelson and Peter Fury ranked their top 10 heavyweights. Joshua made the top 10 on nobody's list and rightfully so. But now he is a world titlist among other world titlist's, where does that put him? Has he improved so much in such a short amount of time to catapult him into the Top 10? I gotta agree with Radam there are a load of boxers would beat up Joshua. I think he is a bread and butter type fighter who can bully less skilled opponents, but against someone smarter than him and a real dog then the chips will stop falling his way. This first defence is not really a defence. It's the old Eddie Hearn (no discredit to Barry) routine and well it's likely to continue.