Joshua makes maiden IBF title defence against Breazeale, Groves goes to war with Murray


Lee Gormley | June 23, 2016

Anthony Joshua v Dominic Breazeale

  • IBF heavyweight title fight
  • Saturday, June 25th
  • Scheduled for: 22:30 BST
  • The O2 Arena, London
  • Live on Sky Sports Box Office

Joshua makes maiden title defence

After comfortably blowing away Charles Martin inside two rounds to become IBF heavyweight champion in April, Britain’s Anthony Joshua makes the maiden defence of his crown against American challenger Dominic Breazeale this Saturday night in London.

At his now familiar stomping ground of the O2 Arena, Joshua (16-0 16 KOs) will look to continue his rampant rise to stardom in the heavyweight division by successfully defending his IBF strap, against a fellow undefeated fighter in Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs), who makes his first appearance outside of the United States.

The travelling Californian retired compatriot Amir Mansour in January, adding to his respective long list of knockout victims, while home favourite Joshua will take to the ring on the back of an impressive 16 successive stoppages, having not been taken beyond seven rounds so far professionally.

Britain’s 2012 Olympic Gold medallist is therefore an overwhelming front runner for further success in his latest outing and enters at 7/2 with Coral to halt Breazeale within rounds 4-6 this weekend, following that historic night two months ago.

IBF champion seeking further success

Joshua has rocketed to heavyweight stardom in recent years with his devastating performances and, in his previous victory over Martin, became only the second Briton in history to win a professional world title as well as an Olympic Gold medal.

The 26-year-old was also the first heavyweight to achieve such a feat, and just the second fighter ever after Joe Frazier to clinch a world title while still reigning as an Olympic champion at the sport’s top weight.

On the back of such a career-crowning bout, Joshua is wary of the threat posed by Breazeale but is confident of avoiding a potential banana skin in his latest match-up, in which he is 10/1 to halt his visiting opponent inside the opening 60 seconds.

“Everyone loves a success story, but not every success story is a yellow-brick road. You have to take the long with the short,” outlined the world heavyweight champion.

“So many people are here to see me win, but they could easily see me lose, too. It’s one fight at a time, but I have to keep my eyes on the prize. It’s not just about winning, It’s about how I look. If I win well then I can start looking at fighters ahead of my time.”

Breazeale “expects to KO” Joshua

After his compatriot Martin was easily dispatched earlier in the year, Breazeale is confident of avoiding a similar fate and has outlined his intentions of handing Joshua his maiden defeat, as he enters proceedings at 9/1 to cause an upset.

“We’re here in London and I’m excited to be here and I’m ready to put on a great show,” declared the American challenger.

“I can’t wait, it’s been an opportunity I’ve been waiting eight years for this. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m ready for this.

“Expect fireworks. We’ll be going round for round, punch for punch and I expect to knock out Joshua.”

The 30-year-old is a different type of fighter to Martin and will hope to live up to his nickname of ‘Trouble’ by giving Joshua plenty of it on Saturday night.

Breazeale is 9/1 to be the first fighter to send his opponent to the canvas, while the reigning champion is 5/2 to secure a sixth career first-round KO in front of thousands of fans at the O2 Arena, on what could be another successful night for heavyweight’s rapidly growing star.

George Groves v Martin Murray

  • WBA international super-middleweight title fight
  • Saturday, June 25th
  • Scheduled for: 21:30 BST
  • The O2 Arena, London
  • Live on Sky Sports Box Office

Groves and Murray meet for high stakes bout

Joshua’s first title defence may be billed as the headline act on Saturday night, but the domestic showdown between George Groves and Martin Murray is seen as the true main event, with such high stakes on the line for both fighters.

Londoner Groves (23-3, 18 KOs) and Merseysider Murray (33-3-1, 16 KOs) hold seven unsuccessful world title attempts between them in their careers and are both seeking another crack at glory, though defeat in this awaited encounter could spell disaster for those ambitions.

Current WBC super-middleweight champion Badou Jack last beat Groves in September last year, the 28-year-old’s third failed world title attempt after back-to-back losses to Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014, but he is odds-on 10/11 to earn a points victory here and edge towards another opportunity.

Murray was unlucky to draw with Felix Sturm in 2011, before losing out to all of Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin and Arthur Abraham, though the St Helens battler is 2/1 to prevail this weekend and win the WBA international super-middleweight strap too.

Last chance saloon for both men

With both men targeting another world title fight in the coming months, the stakes couldn’t higher in this domestic dust-up, with failure to prevail at the O2 Arena potentially a final stumbling block and the pitfalls have been highlighted by Groves.

“I am treating this like the last-chance saloon. If I can’t beat Martin then I don’t deserve to become a world champion,” admitted the Shane McGuigan trained fighter, who is 3/1 to win by KO. “There are a lot of world champions out there and I want to be one of them.”

“The longer it goes on the more you want it. When you are a kid you dream of becoming a world champion and I have an awful lot left to achieve.”

“I think the loser packs it in. Martin’s older than me and he’s exhausted all the natural things a fighter can do.

“He didn’t pull it off at middleweight, he’s moved up to super-middleweight and he’s had a crack at Arthur Abraham, who on paper he should be beating. I thought Martin could beat Arthur, but he let himself down there.”

Murray is 7/2 to earn the judges’ decision in this highly-anticipated bout, while a draw is 25/1 to occur in what could a close contest in the capital between two fighters desperate for another crack at world title supremacy.

Eubank Jr stars on stacked undercard

Chris Eubank Jr (22-1, 17 KOs) will make the first defence of the British title he won from Nick Blackwell on the undercard this weekend, as he prepares to meet Welshman Tom Doran (17-0, 7 KOs) and enters at 7/4 to stop his opponent within rounds 1-3.

The talented Brighton fighter has recently declared his ambitions of fighting middleweight champion Golovkin in September, a fight which promoter Eddie Hearn says is looking possible, but he must first overcome Doran, who is 8/1 to spring a surprise.

Also on the card, John Wayne Hibbert is 1/20 favourite to dispatch Andrea Scarpa (3/1), while former Joshua opponent Whyte (1/100) makes his return to the ring against Ivica Bacurin (16/1), Conor Benn (1/200) clashes with Lukas Radic (18/1) and Felix Cash (1/200) meets Yailton Neves (18/1).


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