Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder to split doubleheader in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23
It appears as though former heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will share top billing against separate challengers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 23, according to veteran boxing writer Dan Rafael, who broke the news on his X account and Fight Freaks Unite Substack.
The pre-Christmas cracker will see Joshua (26-3, 23 knockouts) face Otto Wallin (26-1, 14 KOs) and Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) will end a 12-month spell of inactivity against former WBO titleholder Joseph Parker (33-3, 23 KOs).
BREAKING: The opponents for Joshua & Wilder on same huge Dec. 23 card in Saudi Arabia if deals are finalized + plus every other bout in works, including 2 world title fights & 4 other notable heavyweight bouts. Read & subscribe to my #boxing newsletter: https://t.co/fO1dfDbEwt pic.twitter.com/uFy6hROMTX
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) November 11, 2023
Things are sliding into place for a strong undercard which would feature a trio of heavyweight clashes between Arslanbek Makhmudov (18-0, 17 KOs) and Agit Kabayel (23-0, 15 KOs), The Ring’s No. 9-rated Frank Sanchez (23-0, 16 KOs) vs. Junior Fa (20-2, 11 KOs) and Jarrell Miller (26-0-1, 22 KOs) against Daniel Dubois (19-2, 18 KOs).
It is rumored that The Ring’s No. 6-rated Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs) could face an as-yet-unknown opponent.
In addition, it has been suggested that Ring/IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia and WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol could see action in defenses. Richard Rivera has been touted as a potential Bivol opponent.
Joshua, The Ring’s No. 2-rated heavyweight, won gold at the 2012 Olympics. He turned professional and won British and Commonwealth championships before stopping American Charles Martin (KO 2) to lift the IBF title. The hugely popular Brit defeated Wladimir Klitschko (TKO 11) and Joseph Parker (UD 12) to add WBA and WBO titles to his collection and was largely dominant against solid competitors Carlos Takam and Alexander Povetkin.
Joshua was shockingly stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. (TKO 7) but regained his titles against the ill-disciplined Mexican/American in a direct rematch by one-sided unanimous decision. After beating mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (KO 9), Joshua was twice beaten by Usyk (UD 12/ MD 12). The 34-year-old has returned with wins over Jermaine Franklin (UD 12) and Helenius (KO 7) but hasn’t been overly impressive in doing so.
Wallin, The Ring’s No. 10, turned professional in 2013 and worked his way up on the European circuit. He dominated fellow Swede Adrian Granat (UD 12) before as a complete unknown he gave Fury (L UD 12) his most difficult fight to date, cutting the Brit, who later needed 47 stitches. He struggled to get fights of note over the next couple of years though did beat Dominic Breazeale (UD 12).
He had been in line to face Dillian Whyte only for that fight to fall out at late notice much to his chagrin. The 32-year-old southpaw recently went to Turkey and outboxed former unified cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (SD 12).
Wilder, The Ring’s No. 3-rated heavyweight, won bronze at the 2008 Olympics. He turned professional and won his first 32 fights inside the distance. He outboxed Bermane Stiverne (UD 12) to win the WBC title and made 10 successful defenses. The Alabama native displayed his much-vaunted power stopping Stiverne (KO 1) in a rematch and Luis Ortiz (TKO 10 and KO 7) to set up the eagerly anticipated showdown with Fury.
He benefitted from the scorecards to retain his title on a draw but was beaten down in the rematch and stopped in seven rounds, then lost an exciting third clash, The Ring’s 2021 Fight of the Year, in 11 rounds. Wilder returned with a violent knockout of Robert Helenius (KO 1).
Parker, The Ring’s No. 5, The former amateur standout from New Zealand claimed the vacant WBO title at the expense of Ruiz (MD 12) and made two defenses before losing a unification with Anthony Joshua (UD 12). He lost a razor-thin decision to Dillian Whyte but won his next six fights, which included a pair of wins over perennial contender Chisora (SD 12/ UD 12).
The 31-year-old lost a physically grueling fight against Joe Joyce (KO 11) but has rebounded with two lower-level wins this year before impressing by stopping Simon Kean (KO 3).
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].