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Anthony Joshua will defend his IBF title against Dominic Breazeale, but who is he?

Dominic Breazeale

Anthony Joshua will make the first defence of his IBF world heavyweight title against Dominic Breazeale, so let's find out more about the challenger...

Where does he come from?

Breazeale hails from the sunny climes of Alhambra
Image: Breazeale hails from the sunny climes of Alhambra

Breazeale was born in Alhambra, California, a city just eight miles from downtown Los Angeles with a population close to 100,000.

It's a place most famous for tragic reasons. In February 2003, a media frenzy kicked off after Lana Clarkson was found dead in the home of music mogul Phil Spector, who was subsequently convicted of her murder.

Unpleasant. Is it a violent place in general and Breazeale a product of mean streets?

Alhambra's crime rate is below the national average. Breazeale's journey appears to have been serene enough and he was in the process of applying to work for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation when he took up boxing.

So he was a late starter?

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Breazeale was a quarterback at UNC (courtesy of Instagram: uncbearsfootball)
Image: Breazeale was a quarterback at UNC (Instagram: uncbearsfootball)

Here's where it gets interesting. Breazeale, like Joshua, made the 2012 Olympics and, also like Joshua, discovered boxing late on.

Things could have been very different for Breazeale because he was the University of Northern Colorado's quarterback between 2006 and 2007.

Upon his graduation the following year, he was offered the chance to play American football professionally in Canada, but was forced to turn it down as his wife was pregnant with their first child.

Then the All American Heavyweights recruitment team came a-knocking...

Anthony Joshua v Dominic Breazeale
Image: Tale of the Tape

The who?

The All American Heavyweights is an outfit designed to strengthen the range of choice for the US Olympic selectors by recruiting athletes from other sports - mostly American football.

Standing at 6'7" and weighing 255 pounds at the time, Breazeale was a natural target for the super-heavyweight team and despite initial misgivings, he accepted the terms of the contract.

Four years later, he found himself at the London Olympics.

How did he get on there? I don't remember him crossing AJ's path to glory...

Breazeale (L) lost in the preliminary round to Magomed Omarov
Image: Breazeale (left) lost in the preliminary round to Magomed Omarov at the 2012 Olympics

The pair didn't meet. Breazeale, who had won the US Olympic trials the previous February, was knocked out as early as the preliminary round, losing a wide 19-8 decision to Russia's Magomed Omarov.

To put that into sharper perspective, with victory Omarov advanced to the quarter-final stage, where he was beaten by Magomedrasul Majidov. Majidov was then eliminated by Roberto Cammarelle, who lost to Joshua in the final.

AJ books Breazeale
AJ books Breazeale

Anthony Joshua to defend against Dominic Breazeale

Sounds like that was a good time to switch back to American football!

Far from it. Breazeale turned professional in November of the same year and began with an emphatic first-round stoppage of Curtis Lee Tate in Indio, California.

The knockout run continued until his 10th bout, when Nagy Aguilera took him the distance at the same venue. Breazeale reintroduced early nights immediately and halted his next five opponents.

Has he yet faced anyone we might have heard of?

Breazeale beat Fred Kassi on Deontay Wilder's undercard
Image: Breazeale beat Fred Kassi on Deontay Wilder's undercard

His last two fights have been at a decent level. In August 2015, Breazeale stepped up in class to take on the dangerous Cameroonian Fred Kassi (Hughie Fury's next opponent) and secured a comfortable 10-round decision.

On the same bill, Charles Martin knocked out Vicente Sandez and Deontay Wilder defended against Johann Duhaupas.

In his most recent bout, Breazeale fought Amir Mansour on the undercard of Danny Garcia v Robert Guerrero.

In an entertaining bout, Breazeale hauled himself up from a third-round knockdown to inflict a second career defeat on Mansour, who failed to emerge for round six.

How does he rate his chances of upsetting Joshua?

Pretty highly, by the sound of things - and he seems to be using the shattering of his Olympic dream as motivation.

Breazeale said in an interview earlier this week: "I want to go back to London and finish what I didn't in 2012. Instead of the gold medal, I want the IBF title, and I guarantee you I'm bringing it back to the United States where it belongs."

Dominic Breazeale picked himself up off the canvas to beat Amir Mansour
Image: Dominic Breazeale picked himself up off the canvas to beat Amir Mansour

Do the bookies agree with him?

Not remotely. Breazeale has opened a 10/1 underdog with some firms and early analysis suggests most expect Joshua to defend his crown in trademark style.

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