Joshua Big Deal – The WBA heavyweight title fight this Saturday, June 25th between champion Anthony Joshua and challenger Dominic Breazeale is upon us. It is a battle of two big, young, undefeated heavyweights and is the kind of match many people were yearning for just a few short years ago. Now that the fight is here, however, it really is getting hype only on one side of the Atlantic pond that separates the U.K. from the U.S.A.
You see, Joshua (16-0) is the real deal coming out of Great Britain, and he has a rabid backing that goes back to his days as an amateur. Very few boxers in history get to close out their non-paying career with an Olympic gold medal, but Joshua did just that, in 2012. That the games that year were held in London meant he entered the pro ranks a household name in the U.K. He parlayed that into a world title shot in his 16th fight and for this, his first title defense, he will headline London’s massive O2 Arena again. Everyone has their detractors, but Joshua has amazing hometown support in England that has him poised to potentially be “the next big thing”. Though he may not be far along the development process, he has not faltered at any of the steps to get to where he is today. And the people love him.
Now, American Dominic Breazeale has a lot in common with Joshua, but he gets nowhere near the support of Joshua in his own country. Breazeale too has a strong amateur pedigree; he represented his country in the 2012 Olympics. His Olympic experience ended after just one match, but it does not take away the lessons learned and experience gained in the process. As a pro, he too has stayed undefeated, going 17-0. In his last outing against veteran Amir Mansour he showed some mettle, getting up off the canvas in the third round to stop Mansour after five rounds. Granted, that outing did not scream “immediate title shot” for Breazeale, but this is 2016 and the heavyweight division is in a highly developmental stage. When the call came to fight Joshua, did you expect Breazeale to turn the fight down? He stepped up to the challenge, and for that he has received almost zero support from the American boxing aficionado.
Right now, a look at the sports books lines as we enter fight week sees Joshua a massive -4000 favorite, with Breazeale coming back at +2000. In the expectation of another quick Joshua knockout, the over/under is set at 3 1/2 rounds with the “over” paying +310 and the “under” returning at -400.
Breazeale has had success at the amateur level and is taller and longer than Joshua. These slight advantages will not nullify the huge home field advantage Joshua will have. Should Breazeale win, a potential future rematch in the United States would expose the vast difference in support fighters get in the United States, as even a definitive win is unlkely to get Breazeale much respect. A win for Breazeale would be a huge upset, and it would potentially set Breazeale on the path to superstardom. That path will be harder for Breazeale even with the big upset, as the American audience simply does not support their potential stars the way they do in England.
In the U.K. the fight is set to air on SKY Box Office, SKY´s pay-per-view arm. In the United States the fight is being carried by Showtime.
Joshua Big Deal