While the sport of boxing has somehow contrived to avoid unifying the heavyweight division to that age old thorny problem of politics, there are still some sweet fights to look forward to this summer.
The UK’s leading heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are in action, but not before Deontay Wilder is back in the ring and a potentially dangerous newcomer to this division demonstrates what he could have to offer.
Here are the top four heavyweight boxing bouts fans are talking about this summer.
Deontay Wilder v Dominic Breazeale
WBC champ Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) made seven successful defenses of his belt before tangling with Fury on The Gypsy King’s road to redemption. Although he knocked the Manchester native down, he got back up again and the pair fought out a controversial draw.
While Wilder has dodged a rematch with Fury following that split decision draw, he is now back in calmer waters tackling Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) in an all-American bout in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on the night of May 18. The Bronze Bomber escaped his last fight with his title but is the 1/6 betting favorite to resume winning ways here.
Breazeale has responded well to his sole professional loss to Joshua three years ago, defeating the likes of Eric Molina and Puerto Rico’s Carlos Negron to earn a shot at Wilder. The trouble with Trouble is he’s a 4/1 underdog to capture the gold.
Oleksandr Usyk v Carlos Takam
The 2012 London Olympics heavyweight gold medallist Oleksandr Usyk is back up in this division after competing for much of his subsequent career in the paid ranks as a cruiserweight. This unbeaten Ukrainian (16-0, 12 KOs) can do more in that division, so now tackles reasonable yardstick Carlos Takam (36-5-1, 28 KOs) in Maryland on the evening of May 25.
Usyk is six years younger than his French-Cameroonian opponent and should have no problem stepping up to this level. That is reflected in the latest boxing odds available through bet365 as he’s strongly fancied at 1/14 to win his first professional heavyweight fight. Relative veteran Takam, meanwhile, is the 7/1 outsider.
Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller
This is not the opponent either AJ or British boxing fans wanted next, but nonetheless, he meets Jarrell Miller in Madison Square Garden on the night of June 1 with all of his heavyweight belts up for grabs.
Big Baby isn’t believed to pose much of a threat to Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) despite being on his side of the Atlantic. Miller is 6/1 to cause an upset and dethrone AJ at the top of this division, but the British boxer is 1/12 favourite with good reason.
Joshua has simply fought a better calibre of opposition in amassing his unbeaten record. This easily looks the biggest fight in the career of Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), who has twice been crowned the WBO and WBA regional heavyweight champ for North America.
Tyson Fury v Tom Schwarz
What a pity it is that Fury and Wilder couldn’t agree terms on a rematch yet. They served up a real boxing classic stateside back in December. Now The Gypsy King has taken an easy fight on paper to tide him over as the first of a lucrative multiple-fight deal with ESPN.
Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) meets unbeaten German boxer Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs), who is the WBO Intercontinental champ, in Las Vegas on June 15. The betting suggests this should be plain sailing for the Briton who is an overwhelming odds-on 1/50 for victory with Schwarz a sizeable 14/1 outsider in Sin City.