While we won’t be getting Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk on December 23rd, it’s looking like we may still enjoy a heap of heavyweight action. Dan Rafael and Jake Donovan each report that talks are underway to pit Anthony Joshua against Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder against Joseph Parker atop a blockbuster card in Riyadh.
Joshua (26-3, 23 KO) and Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KO) have been circling one another for what feels like years now. I’d assume that their respective handlers still want to make it happen, but if so, they’re not playing it safe with these matchups. Wallin (26-1, 14 KO) is coming off a nice win over Murat Gassiev, while Parker (33-3, 23 KO) knocked the stuffing out of Simon Kean a couple weeks back in Riyadh.
Joshua vs Wilder is obviously the better matchup and it’s silly to stretch things out like this. That said, these are two really solid fights against opponents with very real shots at derailing everyone’s plans. Wallin’s earned another big opportunity and Parker, underachiever though he may be, would arguably be Wilder’s best non-Fury foe.
Per Rafael, Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KO) will “likely” appear on the show against Richard Rivera (25-1, 19 KO). Bivol has sat out all of 2023 thus far after what should have been a breakout 2022, which saw him take out Canelo Alvarez and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez back-to-back. A long-awaited undisputed clash with Artur Beterbiev remains dead in the water despite mutual interest on the fighters’ sides, with both Bob Arum and WBC chief cretin Mauricio Sulaiman tossing cold water on it on multiple occasions.
Instead, he meets “Popeye the Sailor Man,” whose lone big fight saw him battle Badou Jack to a narrow decision loss in August of last year.
Daniel Dubois and Martin Bakole could also appear in separate matchups.