If 2017 was the year in boxing when the heavyweight division found its feet again, 2018 looks set to the be the year that sees the big men right at the top of the sport. Two huge fights take place in the month of March, with Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38KO’s) and Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24KO’s) set to fight for the Wilder’s WBC title on 3rd March and Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20KO’s) taking on Joseph Parker (24-0, 18KO’s) in a title unification fight on 31st March.
Wilder will have worthy opponent at Barclays
Wilder will have much more on his hands in Luis Ortiz than he did against Bermane Stiverne on his last fight. That was an almost farcical mismatch, given Stiverne’s out-of-shape condition. Wilder is bookmakers’ favourite at 2/5 to beat Ortiz at the Barclays Center, NYC, but the Cuban will have plenty of backers at 2/1. If Wilder can successfully retain his WBC title, it will potentially set up the fight that everybody wants to see this year – Anthony Joshua.
Joshua is becoming one of UK’s biggest sports stars
While Wilder has been busy talking about Joshua’s perceived lack of star-power, stating that, “in America they don’t even know his name.”, it is Joshua who is drawing the mega crowds. The IBO, IBF and WBA (Super) champion is set to fight in front of his third-successive crowd of over 75,000, enough to fill the Barclays Center several times over. He is a darling of the British press, who have built up the Parker fight to great effect, pulling in sports fans who normally give boxing a wide berth.
Bookmakers factoring in convincing Joshua victory
Most believe that Joshua is worthy of the hype. He is a massive favourite to take Parker’s WBO belt at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Bookmaker’s have given him odds of 1/10 to win the fight, with odds of 1/4 for a knockout win and 9/2 for points. Parker, very much the underdog, has been priced in at 6/1 for the fight, with odds of 9/1 for knockout win and 33/1 for a decision. There is a huge amount of buzz around this one, with the markets regularly changing, so check out the latest Joshua v Parker betting tips, odds and offers to keep yourself in the loop.
Wilder v Joshua could take place this summer
The endgame then does seem to favour a Wilder v Joshua showdown at some point this year. With all due respect to Ortiz and Parker, that is the fight that could remake the heavyweight division into something truly special. Even if both fighters get through their bouts however, there are still plenty of wrinkles to iron out before a mega-fight to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion can occur. Joshua has never fought outside of the UK and has been vocal about his desire to fight there, whereas Wilder has claimed the fight must happen in the United States. Purse share is also likely to be contested.
Still, all this points to a very salient fact – there is life in the elite end of the heavyweight division of boxing once again. The chance to see the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis has caught the imagination of casual fans and boxing enthusiasts alike. That is something we should all celebrate.