Anthony Joshua is an overwhelming favourite to overcome his first challenge as IBF heavyweight champion on June 25 at the O2 Arena.
The 26 year-old is a massive favourite already after securing Dominic Breazeale from promoter Eddie Hearn’s shortlist ahead of former world title challenger Eric Molina.
Reaction since Monday’s announcement has been leaning towards the negative, to say the least – as some fans asked, ‘Who is Dominic Breazeale’ and ‘Why is Joshua fighting the undefeated American at all?’
Truth is, Joshua had just three or four options to choose from, and whilst Molina stated his interest in the fight, Andy Ruiz Jr and Jarrell Miller were the only other contenders for the Londoner.
As ‘AJ’ is likely to once again been featured on Showtime in the US, Joshua was limited to fighting someone with Stateside appeal, meaning Frenchman Johann Duhaupas was automatically omitted from the get-go.
Ruiz has a fight booked in for May 14 and Miller wasn’t a big enough name in his homeland, so really Joshua and Hearn had their hands tied from the offset due to the IBF’s rule of only facing someone in their Top 15.
Two places at the top of the IBF ratings are unoccupied, whilst every other fighter either has a fight scheduled, is injured or has already fought Joshua recently.
It wasn’t an ideal situation for Joshua when the Olympic champion wants to make a statement in advance of a possible showdown with UK rival Tyson Fury, but the reality is there wasn’t much of a window of opportunity despite probably the weakest of the three main contenders eventually getting the nod.
Breazeale, 30, was down and in big trouble last time out against Amir Mansour and was lucky his opponent couldn’t continue after five rounds.
Many are already predicting another early finish for Joshua this summer as Breazeale opens up at odds of 9/1 against with the British oddsmakers.