It has been something of a slow build, perhaps going all the way back to Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015, but heavyweight boxing seems to be at the very top of the sport once again. A series of fortuitous events, such as Fury vacating the titles, coupled with bona fide stars emerging at the top of the division has created a perfect storm for heavyweight boxing in 2018.
Two big title fights will take place in March. First up, Deontay Wilder (c) will face Luis Ortiz for the WBC heavyweight title in New York on the 3rd March. Wilder is favourite with bookmakers to retain, currently available at odds of 2/5. Ortiz can be widely backed at a price of 2/1.
Joshua and Parker will fight in front of more than 70,000 fans
While Wilder v Ortiz is a huge fight, Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker has stolen most of the headlines. The undefeated Joshua will put his IBO, IBF and WBA (Super) belts up for grabs in a bid to take Parker’s WBO title. New Zealander Parker is also undefeated but has not enjoyed the meteoric rise in the same way as British hero Joshua.
The fight will take place on 31st March at the 75,000 capacity Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. It looks set to the third successive stadium sell-out for Joshua, who enjoys huge support from legions of British fans. They are keen to see their man, who is a former Olympic Gold Medallist, add another number to his perfect record of 20 KO’s from 20 professional fights so far.
Joshua backed to win with room to spare
Bookmakers, by and large, agree with Joshua’s huge fanbase. He has been priced at 1/10 to win the fight by several major betting brands. He is 1/4 to win within the 12 rounds and 9/2 to win by decision for the first time in professional career. Parker is generally available at 6/1 to win the fight, 9/1 by KO/TKO and as big as 33/1 with some bookmakers to win on a decision. The latter may tempt some if you consider Parker has won his last three fights on points. As it is such a high profile bout there are lots of markets, so check out the latest expert betting tips for the big fight: Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker.
The plan, it seems, is that the winner of the fight will go on to face the winner of Wilder and Ortiz later in the year. That will see one man with the chance to unify all belts in the division, becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion in almost twenty years. Although, things do not always run so smoothly in boxing.
Wilder v Joshua the money fight for promoters
At the moment, it looks likely to be Wilder and Joshua squaring off in a mega-money fight for the belts. However, bookmakers have had got it wrong many times before in the heavyweight division. Although they are perhaps guilty of looking too far ahead, much of the sporting press in the UK has also cited the potential fight of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua somewhere down the line.
The main takeaway is that there is a huge amount of interest in the heavyweight division once more, of the like not seen since Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis were trading blows in the late ‘90s. A lot will depend on the performance of Joshua on the 31st March. This year will see whether he is the heir to the boxing’s throne, or simply a pretender to the heavyweight crown.