Joshua v Breazeale: 5 things you need to know about AJ’s next opponent

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Newly-crowned IBF Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua makes his first defence of the belt at the O2 Arena on June 25 and as is often the case in the modern era of the sport his opponent is a relative unknown on these shores.

While intriguing and potentially-lucrative bouts against the likes of David Haye, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and WBA and WBO champion Tyson Fury remain long-term possibilities, AJ is keen to make a swift return to the ring after snatching Charles Martin’s strap and American Dominic Breazeale is unlikely to pose too big a threat.

The Watford man goes into the fight as the 1/12 favourite to extend his professional record to 17-0-0, while the undefeated Californian can be backed at 7/1 to pull off a huge shock.

In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the man hoping to break British hearts…

Unbeaten record

Like AJ, Breazeale is yet to taste defeat, having won all 17 of his professional fights to date. And the similarities do not end there with the American’s knockout rate almost as impressive as the champ’s.

Breazeale has stopped 15 of his 17 victims inside the distance, only once being taken past four rounds.

Athletic background

A relatively late switch to boxing doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t rise to the top. WBC champ Wilder was trying to make it as a pro basketball player before he laced up a pair of gloves and Breazeale will be hoping to emulate his countryman as a former quarter-back for the University of North Colorado’s American football team.

Amatuer pedigree

Breazeale is arguably one of the best the States has to offer when it comes to amateur pedigree having won the 2012 US National Super heavyweight Championship. This helped him qualify to represent America at the London Olympics, where Joshua won gold. That Breazeale bowed out in the first round, losing 19-8, is unlikely to instil much fear in our man however.

Imposing frame

While he may not be as muscle-bound as AJ (who is?) at 6ft7in the American will take a slight height advantage into the ring and with a reach of 81.5 inches the challenger is allowing AJ just half an inch.

IBF Ranking

Breazeale featured on a shortlist of three potential opponents for Joshua – Bermane Stiverne and Eric Molina being the other two – and on the face of it AJ has picked the toughest test.

Breazeale is ranked 13th in the world by the IBF and Molina one place lower at 14, with Stiverne not featured in the organisation’s top 15.

However, Stiverne is ranked at number two by the WBC- behind number one Alexander Povetkin and champion Wilder – and would likely have posed a bigger threat.

Also, to put Breazeale’s IBF ranking into context, Martin is still ranked higher at number 10 – and posed little threat to AJ – while British journeyman Dereck Chisora is ranked at number eight – make of that what you will.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.