Earlier today, Anthony Joshua (26-3, 23 KO), 33, set up a potentially lucrative January showdown with Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KO) after securing a dominant seventh-round knockout victory against the late replacement opponent Robert Helenius.
Originally slated to face Dillian Whyte, Joshua’s plans changed due to Whyte’s failed VADA test. Helenius stepped in on just a week’s notice to fill the void and made a fine account of himself until Joshua found his rhythm and landed a devastating straight right hand that left Helenius sprawled on the canvas.
Wilder vs Joshua next?
With this win secured, the focus shifted to a potential clash with Deontay Wilder, with Saudi Arabia showing interest in hosting the fight in the coming year. Prince Khalid, a key figure in the financial backing of the event, was present to witness Joshua’s victory.
Promoter Eddie Hearn expressed the desire for a three-fight plan: Helenius, Wilder, and then Tyson Fury. The intention was to secure the Wilder fight, and negotiations were expected to progress soon. The targeted date for the fight was in January, with Saudi Arabia keen to host what could be one of the biggest heavyweight bouts in history.
Joshua vs Wilder odds
Some will compare Joshua and Wilder’s recent bouts with Helenius and safely assume the latter should be a sizeable favorite. And he is a slight favorite, but it has little to do with the fact Deontay KO’d Helenius in less than a round while Joshua needed nearly seven to do the same.
AJ had the right mindset tonight. It would have been a mistake for Joshua to turn ‘Mike Tyson’ on Helenius, become overly aggressive, and seek a first-round knockout. That’s not AJ’s style and the 39-year-old Helenius still has excellent knockout power and can counterpunch fairly well.
Instead of trying to equal Wilder’s feat, AJ was patient, found the range, worked to create the proper opening, and uncorked a monstrous right to end matters.
Who cares if Wilder KO’d Helenius much faster? Muhammad Ali beat a bunch of fellas who beat up similar opponents quicker and more decisively than he did.
It’s all about style match-ups. The best fighters beat the best opponents. Period. How many rounds it took Fighters A and B to defeat Fighter C is often irrelevant.
Via Oddschecker, Deontay Wilder is the early favorite at -120 while Joshua is the narrow underdog at +100. Hence, a winning $100 bet on Wilder would yield $83.33 while the same winning wager on Joshua would net $100.
Why do the odds favor Wilder slightly?
Bettors like Wilder’s bloodcurdling punching power as he’s easily one of the hardest punchers in heavyweight championship history.
He’s a consummate KO artist who can end a bout in one punch and with either hand. And while he’s not as technically sound as Joshua, he, in addition to having the power advantage, is quicker, seemingly more ferocious, and even boasts a slight edge in reach.
Moreover, despite his lean frame, we saw him, in his three fights with Tyson Fury, survive a number of haymakers that landed cleanly so we know it’ll take a lot, offensively, to stop Wilder inside the distance.
With Joshua, it’s the Tale of Two Fighters. Sometimes he looks like a poised wrecking machine and the quintessential heavyweight champion while at others he looks tentative, working behind a good left jab and intelligent footwork but not exhibiting any ferocity.
Prior to tonight, Joshua was 3-3, 1 KO in his previous six bouts and fans were starting to question if AJ’s best days were behind him… And, of course, we found out, he’s still a tiger. Nevertheless, for now, he remains a narrow underdog against Deontay.
For those looking for a reason to bet on Joshua, he has one important element in his favor – ring activity. Since losing to Fury in October 2021, Wilder has had just one fight (KO 1 Robert Helenius, Oct ’22). Meanwhile, AJ has had three bouts since Wilder’s last fight and four in the last 23 months.
Will ring rust be a factor?
Wilder will be 38 when or if this fight happens and facing an opponent of AJ’s caliber without any tune-ups is risky for 35+ fighters. Oftentimes, their managers will require them to have a tuneup or two to optimize their range, timing, rhythm, and conditioning after a long layoff.
It would have been wise for Wilder to have had a training camp to work out all the kinks prior to his training for Joshua.
Do you agree with the Joshua vs Wilder odds? Don’t be surprised if they change between now and the fight. And don’t be surprised if the favorite flips.
This post will be updated frequently.