A big heavyweight double-header featuring a trio of former world champions is set to go down in Saudi Arabia in a little over a month. Two-time former unified champion Anthony Joshua will face Otto Wallin, while former WBC champion Deontay Wilder will clash with former WBO champ Joseph Parker. Those two bouts headline a massive card that was announced on Wednesday and set to take place on Dec. 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The card will feature many of the top ranked heavyweights in the world, including Filip Hrgovic, Daniel Dubois and Frank Sanchez. Plus, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol will make his return when he defends his title against Lyndon Arthur.
In theory, these fights are set to build toward an eventual showdown between Joshua and Wilder, though some fans will certainly wonder why an extra fight is needed before making the second-biggest fight in the heavyweight division, behind only the upcoming battle for the undisputed title between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.
After losing the WBA, WBO and IBF titles to Usyk and again losing in the rematch, Joshua (26-3, 23 KO) has picked up back-to-back wins, taking a decision over Jermaine Franklin in April and stopping Robert Helenius in August. The fight with Wallin will be his third in 2023, something he has not done since 2016.
Wallin (26-1, 14 KO) is best known for his 2019 bout with Fury. In that fight, Wallin nearly derailed Fury’s attempt to get back to a world championship, landing a left hand that opened a nasty cut over Fury’s eye and could have easily resulted in a TKO win by doctor’s stoppage. Fury managed to survive and take the win on the scorecards, handing Wallin the only loss of his pro career. Wallin has gone on a six-fight winning streak since the loss to Fury.
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KO) held the WBC title from January 2015 to February 2020 when he lost his rematch with Fury, against whom he battled to a draw in their first meeting. One of the biggest pound-for-pound punches in boxing history, Wilder has knocked out nearly every man he has ever fought, though he couldn’t keep Fury down in any of their three meetings. After losing the third Fury fight, Wilder got back on the winning track in October 2022, knocking out Helenius in the first round.
In Parker (33-3, 23 KO), Wilder faces a fellow former world champion. Parker took a majority decision over Andy Ruiz Jr. in December 2016 to win the then-vacant WBO belt. After two successful title defenses, Parker dropped a decision to Joshua, losing the belt in the process. He has gone 9-2 since, including a current three-fight winning streak.
Check out the list of announced fight for Dec. 23 below.
Dec. 23 card
- Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin, heavyweights
- Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker, heavyweights
- Dmitry Bivol (c) vs. Lyndon Arthur, WBA light heavyweight title
- Filip Hrgovic vs. Mark de Mori, heavyweights
- Daniel Dubois vs. Jarrell Miller, heavyweights
- Frank Sanchez vs. Junior Fa, heavyweights