BoxNation's Alex Steedman picks out the best bets from Saturday's IBF heavyweight fight.
Joshua is boxing’s equivalent of the microwave meal: warm him up, the bell sounds and he’s good to go. His fights generally take a little less time than it does to cook lasagna too. Certainly that was the case back in April when AJ (1/20) ripped the IBF belt from Charles Martin who suffered two flash knockdowns in the second round and chose to sit it out. One of the worst world champions in recent years was replaced by one of the most exciting.
That demolition inside five minutes was the 16th consecutive knockout of Joshua’s career with all bar December’s roller-coaster seventh round win over Dillian Whyte coming inside three rounds. The fans that continue to sell out the O2 Arena in support of AJ come looking for knockouts and Joshua is more than happy to oblige. They will both be rewarded handsomely again on Saturday.
Opponent Breazeale (14/1) has one more win and one less KO than Joshua but with 15 stoppages in 17, he can definitely punch. A one time college quarterback, Breazeale knows what its like to be in the pocket and sacked; twice he’s been on the deck as a pro before coming back to win by KO. Having only switched sporting codes a little over seven years ago, Breazeale has been learning on the job but now he’s up in the big league and he doesn’t look quick or good enough.
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So far in his career, Breazeale has been too easy to hit and we know Joshua is accurate and hits hard. What Breazeale brings to the table is attitude, toughness and so far, a decent chin. All will be tested on Saturday night in a fight to be shown live in the US as part of Joshua’s new deal with American cable giants Showtime. The IBF consider there to be eight better fighters than Breazeale in their rankings so this is expected to be a voluntary defence party with the accent on attack.
What we’re betting on here is how quickly AJ gets to his opponent and how tough Breazeale turns out to be. It is just (2/9) the fight ends inside six rounds and I’d be amazed if it goes that far. Indeed you can back AJ to win in the 4th (9/1) and it’s (16/1) round 5 and bigger beyond. In other words, nobody expects this to last much more than 10 minutes.
Unlike Charles Martin, Breazeale will attempt to get up, if he can and much like Dillian Whyte before him, the American will swing while he’s able. All of that might buy punters some time in the game beyond the favoured finished inside two rounds (10/11 lads). You can back either at (11/4) individually while round three is (4/1). I went for rounds 3-4 last time and Breazeale is probably easier to hit than Martin but he’s tougher too and I’ll trade on that again (11/4). The beers might nearly be chilled if you put them in before the ring walks but that lasagna will be getting cold.
Groves has looked good at a certain level in two fights under Shane McGuigan since the frustrating split-decision loss to Badou Jack last year, a fight he probably should’ve won. The jab is still strong though the right hand not as surprising as it was to Carl Froch once. Groves has more variety and movement than Murray and that could be key.
Murray is strong, tough and motivated despite four disappointments at world level. He forced a draw against Felix Sturm once and pushed Sergio Martinez close in Argentina. He also lasted nearly 11 rounds with Golovkin, more than anyone else has managed so the idea of Groves forcing a stoppage (100/3 VCBet) is unlikely, more so given Murray’s tight defence.
Murray feels Groves will tire down the stretch but McGuigan is red-hot on his fighters’ diet and weight making while Groves surely put that one to bed with his arduous distance fights against Jack and Rebrasse. Groves can jab and move his way to a clear win by decision (Evs) in what looks the bet of the night.