As was steadily revealed over the last few days, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will co-headline a stacked December 23rd show in Riyadh.
Joshua (26-3, 23 KO), making his third appearance in a calendar year for the first time since 2016, takes on veteran Otto Wallin (26-1, 14 KO). Best known for coming out of nowhere to nearly stop Tyson Fury on a cut, Wallin is coming off a strong win over Murat Gassiev and sits at no. 5 in BoxRec’s heavyweight rankings.
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KO), who’s had less than three minutes of ring time in the last two years, squares off with Joseph Parker (33-3, 23 KO) for his most dangerous non-Fury fight since Luis Ortiz. Parker is 3-0 over limited opposition since falling short against Joe Joyce, while Wilder returned to the win column two Octobers ago by smoking Robert Helenius.
Daniel Dubois (19-2, 18 KO) vs Jarrell Miller (26-0-1, 22 KO) and Frank Sanchez (23-0, 16 KO) vs Junior Fa (20-2, 11 KO) are official, as expected, but the poster also reveals a few new tussles.
WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KO), previously expected to fight Richard Rivera, instead makes his only defense of 2023 against Lyndon Arthur (23-1, 16 KO). Arthur is 4-0 over limited opposition since getting violently stopped by Anthony Yarde in their 2021 rematch.
IBF mandatory heavyweight challenger Filip Hrgovic (16-0, 13 KO) takes on Mark De Mori (41-2-2, 36 KO) in a “fight” any competent athletic commission would axe in a heartbeat. De Mori is 41, got mulched in a round by David Haye nearly eight years ago, and has spent the intervening time feasting on some of the worst big men in the sport. BoxRec is obviously far from gospel, but I don’t think no. 10 should be fighting no. 295.
Knockout artist Arslanbek Makhmudov (18-0, 17 KO) crushed Junior Anthony Wright in a joke of a fight three weeks back, but now faces a genuine test in Agit Kabayel (23-0, 15 KO). This marks Kabayel’s first major fight since scoring a breakout win over Derek Chisora in 2017, signing with Top Rank, and then immediately going back to crushing cans in his native Germany instead of stepping up.
Finally, IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia (23-0, 18 KO) makes his second defense in three months against Ellis Zorro (17-0, 7 KO). Opetaia has a purse bid next week for his mandated rematch with Mairis Briedis, so I’m not entirely clear on how this came to pass, but Zorro seems hideously out of his depth and shouldn’t pose an obstacle to that fight.