Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder now a promise that must be delivered… but they cannot take their eye off the prize like Tyson Fury did
Joshua and Wilder fight in separate bouts on a colossal card for boxing on 23 December.
In his latest column, the former Olympian and heavyweight contender reacts to some stunning developments in the heavyweight division after the biggest show in the history of boxing was confirmed for 23 December.
Wallin and Parker are serious tests
Something truly special is coming in December. The show in Saudi Arabia featuring Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin, Deontay Wilder vs Joseph Parker, Daniel Dubois vs Jarrell Miller with Filip Hrgovic, Dmitry Bivol, Jai Opetaia among others involved is like nothing we have seen before – a lot of those fights are good enough to headline a show on their own.
If you are a boxing fan you have to be excited. As far as Joshua and Wilder are concerned, these are very competitive fights they have ahead of them. If they are not going to box each other before the year is out, these are the sort of names that fit the bill.
Joseph Parker is coming off a great win in Saudi against Simon Kean on the Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou card just a few weeks ago. Wallin himself is coming off a very good win against Murat Gassiev fighting out in Turkey in September.
Of course, there will be people questioning why Joshua vs Wilder couldn’t be made for this show. But without boxing each other, you can’t really ask for anything else because there aren’t really too many other realistic options around.
Wallin, a man who gave Fury some good work a few years ago and Parker, a former WBO heavyweight champion, these guys have been at or close to the top of the mountain and they will be confident this fight can put them back there and put them in that world title picture once again. And if they lose they are still walking away with a few million quid. Everyone is happy.
Lessons to be learned from Fury scare
Joshua vs Wilder has been a story in boxing for so long. Getting them on the same card, in the same room, even the same country is a massive step in the right direction. It will create a buzz that cannot be ignored that must be delivered on.
We all want to see that fight. But this is heavyweight boxing, no one is to be overlooked. Both have to concentrate on what is in front of them. Joshua is dealing with a very tricky southpaw in Wallin. Parker is a former world champion who has been very active this year. All you have to do is look at what we have just seen with Fury and Ngnanou. That is a lesson to everyone.
I believe the undisputed fight against Oleksandr Usyk fight was a bit of a distraction as far as Fury was concerned, and it probably hindered his performance and put that fight back even more. Had he wiped out Ngannou we would have been seeing that fight just before Christmas. It was a lesson to everyone, especially AJ and Wilder.
Elsewhere on the card, there is some unbelievable talent on show. I think in terms of names and superstars, this has to be the biggest card in history. It will be bigger than Fury vs Ngannou and that was some event, I was out there to see it and it was off the scale. It will 100 percent be the biggest boxing spectacle of all time.
Like it or not, Saudi was the only option
Away from the fighters, it’s a big breakthrough to have everyone working together behind the scenes. Queensberry and Frank Warren, Matchroom and Eddie Hearn, PBC and Wasserman are all involved here with the Saudi officials.
It is probably not the thing people want to hear but this is where the role boxing in Saudi bridges the gap and keeps everyone at the top table happy in a financial sense, allowing them to work together and get the fights on. No one is losing out and everyone is gaining a bit. This isn’t great for fans in the UK, not many people will be able to afford to go to Saudi a few days before Christmas.
But if we do want to see these fights, boxing fans are going to have to come to the conclusion that having them in Saudi might be the only way. That is just the landscape of the sport right now. The money these guys are demanding in this new era of mega fights means that it is the only destination.
Azim’s rise continues
There is so much positivity around Adam Azim right now. He is answering all the questions asked of him and passing all the tests. He is developing the right way, fighting the right opponents and getting the right experience as we saw in his last fight where he was given the rounds he maybe needed.
We know this game, it is all good blasting people out but at world title level, which is what he is aiming for, you need those learning fights in the bag too.
He is not afraid to call out the big names and set huge goals for himself – we know all about his dreams of becoming a world champion younger than Amir Khan managed it at 22 years old. He is well in his rights to do that. It is a good test for him this weekend and beating Franck Petitjean to add the European title to his collection will be a huge next step.
Bentley vs Heaney could be a fight of the year
Do not sleep on Denzel Bentley vs Nathan Heaney this weekend in Manchester, that is a very good fight. It is about as 50-50 as you can get, you probably give Denzel the edge given his recent results and the momentum behind him. But Heaney is a very capable fighter.
They are two gents and I think Heaney will be taking an army with him, those Stoke fans will be making themselves heard. With the British title on the line, it could be a classic.
Any fighter competing for that belt is heading in the right direction. I really do think that could be one of the fights of the year.
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