Comparing Joshua-Breazeale

Kurt Ward
30/04/2016 2:35pm

British fight fans are not happy. Well, some clearly aren't, that's for sure. And there's nothing like a Matchroom card proudly presented to you by Eddie Hearn for only £16.95 on Pay-Per-View to really get fingers smashing on keyboards around the country in a furious frenzy of anger. That annoyance intensified this week when it was announced that IBF heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua will be making the first defence of his strap against unbeaten American Dominic Breazeale.

The PPV argument will rumble on and on, and it can be discussed each and every day on various forums and social media, but this article is a response to the negative reaction to the actual defence against Breazeale and only that. The challenger isn't expected to beat Joshua and, for most, won't even offer much of a test, but is this a rarity for champions in the sport, or more specifically since we're discussing Anthony Joshua's first defence, the heavyweight division?

Let's take a look at some heavyweight titlists over the last few years and how their maiden defences stack up to what will take place at the O2 Arena on 25 June.

Recently dethroned champion Wladimir Klitschko made the first defence of his WBO heavyweight title way back in 2001, five months after winning the lightly-regarded strap against Chris Byrd.

His opponent, Derrick Jefferson, was given the opportunity to challenge for the title but went into the bout having suffered two knockout losses the previous year. His one win that year, in his bout before getting the Klitschko call, came against a fighter possessing a 7-7-1 record. Jefferson was dropped three times before the referee mercifully waved it off after a little over five minutes of one-sided, and very predictable, action.

Riddick 'Big Daddy' Bowe's opponent for the first defence of the heavyweight title he won by defeating Evander Holyfield in a heavyweight classic, Michael Dokes, fared even worse than Mr Jefferson.

After introducing a green belt to a dustbin and leaving a potential Bowe - Lennox Lewis blockbuster dead in the water, Bowe agreed to face the former WBA titlist at Madison Square Garden. Dokes, who had lost his title 10 years previously after being knocked out by Gerrie Coetzee, and who had since suffered the same fate at the fists of Evander Holyfield and Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock, wasn't expected to put up much of a fight by fight fans and media alike. They were right. 

Two minutes after the opening bell, and after 55 landed punches by Big Daddy, the fight was over. The champion pocketed a reported $7m for the mismatch and poor Dokes, well let's just say Dynamite blew his last big chance on the world stage.

Wladimir's big brother, two-time heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, came out of a four-year retirement to easily reclaim the WBC belt he had vacated previously due to injury. His first defence came five months later against a Cuban with an excellent record. With 44 wins and only one loss, Juan Carlos Gomez, on paper anyway, appeared to be a tough assignment. The problem, however, was that the majority of those wins were at cruiserweight where he had held a version of the world title and Gomez, who had seemingly ate his way up to a rotund 230lbs, had only really one standout name on his record: 42-year-old Oliver McCall. Giving up around 20lbs in weight and four inches in height, Gomez was dropped twice as he was stopped in the ninth round of a largely dull and routine victory for the champion.

Deontay Wilder sparked U.S. interest back into the heavyweight division when he became the first American in eight years to hold a recognised world title by defeating Bermane Stiverne. The Alabama native made his first defence in front of his home crowd when facing the unheralded Eric Molina in June of last year. Molina, tall with a big punch, came into the bout on a five fight win streak but his last loss, in 2012, came at the hands of a man twice beaten by Stiverne in Chris Arreola - and in the first round no less. Despite the calls of mismatch by fans heading in, Molina surprised many by hurting the champion early and putting up an incredibly brave, yet albeit losing, effort after being dropped twice and eventually being stopped in the ninth round.

Lennox Lewis, who would go on to become undisputed heavyweight champion, regained the WBC title he had lost to Oliver McCall in 1994 by defeating the same McCall three years later. The first man to get the call to challenge for the green strap was Henry Akinwande. Born in South London but raised in Nigeria, Akinwande had vacated his minor WBO title in order to face Lewis. The bout ended up as a total farce, however, as Akinwande held onto Lewis at every opportunity for five rounds before referee Mills Lane, finally sick of his constant warnings being ignored, disqualified the challenger. It would be the second time in two weeks that Lane would end a heavyweight title fight early through disqualification after Mike Tyson's infamous ear bite.