Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, two of the biggest names in British boxing, head to Cardiff this Saturday (October 28th) for a near-sellout event at Millennium Stadium. Unfortunately, the heavyweight rivals will not be touching gloves in an anticipated rematch. Instead, they will be taking on two lesser-known fighters.
Fight promoter Eddie Hearn has some big plans for the heavyweight division. After mopping the floor with Robert Helenius this weekend, Whyte will go on to face the heavy-hitting and undefeated Deontay Wilder, and the winner will be granted a shot at Joshua for what could be the biggest fight of 2018.
Of course, that’s contingent on Joshua also winning his fight this weekend, but given that he’s a 1/25 favorite, that should be a mere formality.
Is there any chance Saturday’s bouts don’t follow Hearn’s script?
Anthony Joshua (-2500) vs Carlos Takam (+1650), Draw (+4000)
Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) was first scheduled to fight mandatory IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev, placing his WBA, IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles on the line against the Bulgarian. But on October 16th, less than two weeks before the event, Pulev pulled out of the fight due to injury. Joshua and Eddie Hearn were forced to find a last-minute replacement.
Enter Carlos Takam (35-3-1, 27 KOs), a 36-year-old former Olympian who’s set to take on the world champ on just 12 days’ notice. He’s past his prime, relatively unknown, and recently lost a fight to the young Joseph Parker (though he’s won his last two fights since).
Joshua towers over Takam, standing almost five inches taller with a 1.5-inch reach advantage. He’s fought and beaten fighters far more distinguished than Takam, both at the amateur and professional level, and he would never have given the Cameroonian-French boxer so much as a glance if he wasn’t desperate for a replacement. “AJ” was the heavy favorite ahead of the now-scrapped Pulev fight, and the odds only favor him more against the overmatched and underprepared Takam.
Joshua needs to face a few more top-level heavyweights before we really know what he’s capable of, but Takam shouldn’t pose much of a threat. The Olympic gold medalist will be too fast, too technical, and too powerful for the fill-in fighter. Taking a fight on 12 days’ notice against one of the most dangerous men in the sport is commendable and it will earn Takam the biggest payday of his career. As for the result, we already know how this one ends. There’s not much value to be had for bettors with Joshua at -2500, but there’s even less on the underdog.
Pick: Anthony Joshua (-2500)
Dillian Whyte (-400) vs Robert Helenius (+400), Draw (+3300)
After suffering his first and only professional loss to Anthony Joshua in 2015, Dillian Whyte (21-1, 16 KOs) went on to win his next five fights. He’s eager for a rematch against Joshua, and there’s been bad-blood between the two since their amateur days; but first he’ll have to face two-time European champ Robert Helenius (25-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBC Silver heavyweight title.
Standing at 6”7’, Helenius has a significant height advantage over the 6”4’ Whyte. Other than that, there isn’t much to say in favor of the Swede. He was favored against Johann Duhaupas last year when they met for the WBC Silver heavyweight title, but ended up getting dominated. He was knocked down twice before being stopped in the sixth.
Whyte is a little over-hyped — and he’ll be found out if he ends up facing Deontay Wilder or Joshua next year — but he’s a far better boxer than Helenius. Eddie Hearn knows what he’s doing, and he’s setting up Whyte for a win. The odds (-400) present a reasonable betting opportunity.
Pick: Dillian Whyte (-400)