Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua have agreed deals for their next professional fights in what will be a blockbuster night for boxing. Wilder will face New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker, while Joshua will take on Sweden’s Otto Wallin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23.
The two fights will mark one of the biggest events in boxing’s history with four of the top 10 WBC-ranked boxers competing. Wilder and Joshua are ranked first and second respectively, while Parker and Wallin are eighth and ninth.
Despite the boxer’s rankings, none of the four major sanctioning bodies’ belts will be on the line for either fight. Tyson Fury is the current holder of the WBC strap while Oleksandr Usyk boasts the IBF, WBO and WBA Super world heavyweight championships.
Fury and Usyk are set to fight early next year for the undisputed heavyweight ranking, leading to reports that Wilder was due to fight Joshua next. However, both boxers have agreed to deals for alternative opponents.
The undercard fights on the night will also prove to be an unmissable spectacle. Lyndon Arthur will face Dmitry Bivol while Daniel Dubois will lock horns with Jarrell Miller.
The fight for Wilder would be his first bout since Oct. 2022 when he knocked out Robert Helenius in the first round. The former WBC heavyweight champion won the fight comfortably off the back of consecutive defeats to Tyson Fury to give the American a record of 43 wins – 42 via knockout – two defeats and a controversial draw against Fury.
Joshua last fought earlier in the year when he also defeated Helenius via a seventh-round knockout back in Aug. The 34-year-old has won 26 professional fights with 23 knockouts and three defeats.
Both Parker and Wallin also head into their bouts in winning form. Parker, a former WBO heavyweight world champion, defeated Simon Kean via knockout with a brutal uppercut in Oct. on the Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou undercard. Wallin defeated Murat Gassiev in Sept. via split decision in a tense fight in Antalya, Turkey.
In a surprising twist, Joshua and Wallin have competed in the same ring twice before. The duo touched gloves back in 2010 and 2011 while competing at amateur level – with Joshua winning on both occasions.
Speaking ahead of the fights, former WBC, IBF and WBA champion Carl Froch voiced his disappointment at the news that Joshua won’t be fighting Wilder.
“It’s a bit disappointing for AJ to be fighting Wallin instead of Deontay Wilder, because the AJ vs Wilder fight for me is a very big fight, it’s a fight I could look forward to, it’s a fight I could get excited about,” Froch said via talkSPORT.
“It’s one of them where you think, ‘what happens?’ Does AJ get absolutely obliterated and knocked out in a couple of rounds because he’s a bit mentally still tentative in the way in which he does his work? Or does AJ actually turn up and put on a boxing masterclass and maybe even finish off Wilder?
“There’s so many different outcomes, it’s a juicy fight, so to now find out that AJ’s fighting Wallin, I’m disappointed. But, you can see Anthony Joshua, Eddie Hearn and his team are still in the rebuilding process, because Otto Wallin is not a bad fight.
“It’s AJ back out there against someone who is quite capable, we saw him against Tyson Fury and he gave him that nasty cut, he’s on a run of a few decent little wins since then, but let’s be honest it’s nothing to get too excited about.”