Anthony Joshua Betting: Can AJ Rule the Heavyweight Division Again?
To be fair, Anthony Joshua was probably going to beat Dillian Whyte anyway. When this heavyweight bout was first announced just over a month ago, Joshua was floating around the –650 range on the boxing odds board at Bodog Sportsbook, with Whyte at +400. However, Whyte was the +800 underdog for their first fight back in 2015, which Joshua took via seventh-round TKO. That bout wasn’t straightforward it has to be said, but nothing ever is when it comes to Anthony Joshua betting.
The shorter odds for Whyte were a testament to how well he performed in their first encounter – and to how much Joshua’s stock has slipped in recent years. But it’s all moot now; Whyte was dropped from their rematch last week after an “adverse finding” in his VADA drug test, and this past Tuesday, Robert Helenius stepped in on short notice to be Joshua’s opponent for Saturday’s main event at the O2 Arena in London.
As we go to press, the boxing betting lines at Bodog have Joshua as the –1800 favourite, while Helenius (+800) will be one of the biggest underdogs he’s ever faced. Whyte was a very popular choice among bettors for his first meeting with Joshua. Helenius might not have the same support, but given the way Joshua’s career has unfolded, the question remains: Is the former champ ever going to rule the heavyweight roost again?
To help answer that question, let’s take a look at three potential opponents for Joshua, and the chances of any of these fights taking place – assuming that Joshua does indeed beat Helenius this Saturday. If they can’t get one of these top-flight contenders to sign on the dotted line, the Anthony Joshua betting train will come to a screeching halt.
No matter how much people clamour for it, Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua has yet to materialise. This would be not only the biggest fight in the history of British boxing, but one of the biggest anywhere. Fury (33-0-1, 23 KOs) is still the WBC heavyweight champion, and Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) is still one of this division’s top contenders.
If only Joshua and his people at Matchroom Boxing would play along. They did have a bout scheduled for August 2020 that Fury was forced to drop by the WBC, so he could defend the belt in a mandated trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder – which turned out to be the Fight of the Year for 2021. But ever since, Joshua has turned down each offer Fury’s camp has put in front of him. “I cannot get him in the ring for any amount of money,” Fury told reporters earlier this week.
If Fury is too much for Joshua to chew on, how about the man Fury defeated twice? Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) is the only other serious heavyweight contender in the pipeline, and unlike Fury vs. Joshua, it seems inevitable that Joshua vs. Wilder will take place. It might be as soon as this December, given the ongoing talks between the two camps.
You don’t even have to wait for it to become official before you bet on it. Bodog Sportsbook already has Joshua vs. Wilder odds on the board for a prospective 2023 bout; Wilder is the –130 favourite, with Joshua at even money. Let’s hope they do indeed meet in December, rather than drag things out for a lucrative 2024 date in Saudi Arabia as many insiders are fearing.
They say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, hoping to see a different result. It’s easy to see why Joshua and his camp would shy away from a trilogy fight with the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion, given how he took those belts off Joshua in 2021 and defended them successfully in 2022.
Then again, Joshua did put up a better fight in their rematch, losing by split decision rather than unanimous decision – although most observers still had Usyk as the clear winner. But according to Joshua’s comments after Whyte was forced out of their rematch, the game plan was to defeat Whyte, then Wilder, then Fury. Usyk doesn’t seem to be anywhere on his radar at the moment, which is probably a good thing in terms of Anthony Joshua betting.
Joshua vs. Helenius: A Wild Challenger Appears
Before any of those bouts can take place, Joshua has to take care of business this Saturday. It’s never easy having to adjust your game plan when a fight falls apart and a new opponent is introduced, but at the same time, Helenius (32-4, 21 KOs) is definitely a step down in competition. “The Nordic Nightmare” from Finland (via Sweden) dropped a unanimous decision to Whyte in 2017, and was brutally knocked out late in the first round of his fight with Wilder last October.
The timing is also a bit awkward for Helenius. He will enter the squared circle just one week after beating fellow Finn Mika Mielonen by third-round TKO, in the main event of the annual card at St. Olaf’s Castle in Savonlinna. Even if Helenius didn’t take much damage in this mismatch, the quick turnaround will be a challenge in and of itself.
Still, Helenius does pose a bit of a puzzle for Joshua to solve. He’s a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, two inches taller than Whyte with an extra inch of reach as well. This will be a rare time that Joshua is picking on a man his own size – a man that he has yet to face inside the ring, unlike Whyte.
Let’s not forget the circumstances behind Joshua’s first-ever career defeat at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr back in 2019. Joshua was supposed to fight Jarrell Miller, but a positive VADA test put the kibosh on that matchup, giving Ruiz the opportunity to step in and score the shocking upset after being priced in the +1200 neighbourhood on fight night.
Joshua vs. Helenius: Time for a Change
History could certainly repeat itself this Saturday. But at least Ruiz had over a month to prepare for his title fight with Joshua, and while those two losses to Usyk were just as disappointing, Joshua responded wisely by hiring a new trainer in Derrick James, one of the most respected names in the business.
You could see the improvements right away in Joshua’s most recent fight. This past April, also at the O2 Arena, Joshua took on Jermaine Franklin and won handily via unanimous decision – although the failure to knock out Franklin didn’t sit well with some observers. Joshua let his left jab do most of the talking in this fight.
Now that he’s had a second camp under James’s tutelage, Joshua’s career renaissance can take another important step forward this Saturday. But how motivated will the former champ be to deliver the goods? This fight was supposed to air on DAZN pay-per-view, but it will be shown on their monthly subscription platform instead now that it’s Helenius instead of Whyte. So much for making a big impression before the proposed Joshua vs. Wilder bout.
Even with all these changes, Joshua is expected to put Helenius away early this Saturday. At press time, this fight is pegged at –485 not to go the distance, with the prices on Over/Unders for rounds at Bodog Sportsbook balancing out at around 5.5 rounds. More Anthony Joshua props will become available between now and bell time, so keep hitting that refresh button for the latest boxing lines, and we’ll see you in jolly old London Town.
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Will AJ dismantle his man on Saturday? Can he handle that Wilder power? Will the mega fight with Fury ever take place? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter.
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