Steve Bunce's British boxing review: Previously in 2018...

It may not have been pretty but Anthony Joshua produced the most proficient performance of his career to defeat Kiwi Joseph Parker on points earlier this year. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

We waited three months for the biggest fight in the business to be signed, sealed and delivered and now go into the second half of an exceptional year in British boxing knowing that Anthony Joshua will not fight Deontay Wilder any time soon.

However, so far this year we have had 80,000 through the turnstiles for a partial unification of the heavyweight championship, too much hate in another sell-out scrap, some domestic classics, several fights that looked like they would never happen and a couple of deaths that will not quickly be forgotten. It has so far been about far more than the tacky leather and fake diamond belts British boxers seem to win each and every Saturday night in a ring somewhere near you.

In March, as expected, over 80,000 people watched Anthony Joshua add the WBO belt to his heavyweight collection of championship baubles -- he has the IBF and WBA -- in a clever fight against Joseph Parker, the previously unbeaten New Zealander. Joshua jabbed, moved, boxed, never took a risk and won comfortably; it was arguably his best performance, most skilled, but it also failed to excite. Joshua talked about not taking risks.

The wait for confirmation of a fight with Wilder, the man with the WBC belt, included some wild cash offers, some ridiculous claims and the type of zany reasoning that has ruined so many fights over the years. In late June, the Wilder v Joshua fight collapsed and the Russian Alexander Povetkin joined the heavyweight party. Povetkin will challenge Joshua and it is a good fight, a truly hard fight, but not the fight the public wanted.

In early June Tyson Fury returned to the ring in Manchester for the first time since November 2015 against a man called Sefer Seferi. It was never meant to be a competitive fight -- it was about Fury shaking off the rust -- and there was an awful lot to shake off -- during the brief carnival in the ring. Fury, still only 29, will fight again in Belfast in August and it will be another easy job on what looks like being a far more difficult journey back to glory than initially thought. In May, Fury's cousin, Hughie, won the British heavyweight title in front of 2.9 million people on terrestrial television.

Meanwhile, lurking in the heavyweight middle ground, between Joshua and Fury, is Dillian Whyte, once Fury's sparring partner and also one night a victim of Joshua's punching power. Whyte knocked out Australia's Lucas Browne at the O2 in March in a bloody and vicious brawl and is back in the same ring against Parker in a pay-per-view fight in late July. Whyte starts as the underdog in yet another sellout at the O2.

The other notable clash at heavyweight was the repeat win for Tony Bellew over David Haye in a fight with increased levels of savagery. Last year it was brutal, Haye hobbling out with a ruptured Achilles, and this year, back in the O2 ring, it was difficult to watch at times. Bellew was too fast and knocked out Haye in round five, leaving the fallen champion on his face in the middle of the ring. There was no controversy and Haye, sensibly, announced his retirement a few weeks later. Bellew, never slow to start the hype, has targeted Fury as the next heavyweight he wants to beat. It is the type of freak fight that could just happen and would be a major event. Bellew, a veteran of a Hollywood blockbuster, knows how to sell, create, make and then have a fight.

James DeGale traveled to Las Vegas in April for his rematch with Caleb Truax for the IBF super-middleweight title and seldom has there been so much pressure on a British boxer in a world title fight. DeGale won in some style and there is now bold talk of a fight with Billy Joe Saunders in September or October. Saunders has so far had a dreadful year, pulling out twice from defences of his WBO middleweight title and struggling with his fitness away from the ring. A catchweight fight between the old friends -- the pair went to the Beijing Olympics together -- would make sense. Saunders also had to sit and watch as Gennady Golovkin, who had agreed to fight him, signed for his controversial second fight with Canelo Alvarez in September. Saunders is looking for a big fight and DeGale is a perfect fit.

In February a capacity crowd in Manchester watched George Groves end the talk, pretensions and claims of Chris Eubank Jr with an old-fashioned boxing display in what was an odd fight. The easy win meant Groves retained his WBA super-middleweight title and moved to the final of the World Boxing Super Series against Liverpool's unbeaten Callum Smith. Groves injured his shoulder beating Eubank Jr and the Smith fight -- initially scheduled for May -- seems to now be on permanent hold.

Josh Warrington pulled off the shock of the year so far to delight over 25,000 at his beloved Elland Road in May when he outpointed Lee Selby for the IBF featherweight title. Warrington had a careful plan and Selby and his team entered the fight with the wrong attitude. It was a fabulous night for the sport. Selby will move to super-feather and probably win a world title during the next year. As for Warrington, he has an offer to fight Carl Frampton later this year. Frampton beat Nonito Donaire, the best foreign boxer to fight in Britain so far this year, in another night of drama in Belfast in April; in August, Frampton meets unbeaten Australian Luke Jackson. It was meant to be Selby in the ring at Windsor Park, but that fight is gone forever.

The British light-heavyweight title changed hands in March when Callum Johnson, unbeaten in 16 before the fight, stopped the champion Frank Buglioni is just 91 seconds. Johnson now has an IBF world title fight against Artur Beterbiev in October in America; Beterbiev is one of the most avoided fighters in the business.

In six months packed with British title fights, the ring exploits of Lewis Ritson need to be remembered. Ritson won the British lightweight title late in 2017 in his 13th fight, he was unknown at the time, but so far this year has made three quick defences against top fighters, winning in the first, second and first.

Two quality veterans, men with world title belts and some big defeats during their careers, returned with wins and an apparent agenda to fight each other. Kell Brook, who had not won a fight since March 2016, looked sharp in March and fights again in late July. Amir Khan, who had not won a fight since May 2015, was equally impressive in a wild one-round win over Phil Lo Greco in April. It is odd how silent the pair have become since returning; it looked like they were set for an outdoor summer fight.

On one foul day in May, British boxing lost Brendan Ingle and Dean Francis. Ingle had been training, shaping, saving and making fighters for over 40 years at his gym in Sheffield, including Naseem Hamed and Brook. Francis won the British, Commonwealth and European titles and was just 44 when he died after a 15-month struggle with cancer. Joe Calzaghe said Francis was the best British boxer to never win a world title.

It has been a busy six months in the British boxing world.