A loaded card (at least in terms of recognizable names) takes place this Saturday in Saudi Arabia from the Kingdom Arena, that is being used as a prelude to more anticipated bouts in the first quarter of 2024. Here's a look at the 'Day of Reckoning'...
- Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin
For 'AJ' this will be his third outing of 2023, which in itself is quite an achievement in modern day boxing. His campaign began with a 12 round decision versus Jermaine Franklin, than a seventh round KO of Robert Helenius in the summer. Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) will never have the shine that he did a few years ago when he was an undefeated and unified heavyweight champion. He's never been quite the same guy since his cloak of invincibility was punctured by Andy Ruiz in their first meeting.
In Wallin (26-1, 14 KOs) he is facing a pretty solid heavyweight, who gave Tyson Fury a bit of a scare a few years ago as he was looking ahead to his rematch with Deontay Wilder. The 33 year old southpaw is a guy that is actually a pretty respectable opponent in this setting. He's not a great puncher (which was probably a prerequisite to land this assignment) but he knows how to handle himself in there.
This is actually a matchup of two Ring Magazine rated heavyweights. Joshua is rated number two, while Wallin is 10.
- Deontay Wilder vs Joseph Parker
This is a clash between two former heavyweight belt-holders. Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) is a bit of an unknown at this stage. Since getting beat by Fury in their third bout in 2021, he has performed for just three minutes since that point, a first round stoppage of Robert Helenius last October. The assumption is that he can still punch pretty hard.
As for Parker (33-3, 23 KOs), the one time WBO titlist is on a three bout winning streak since his 11th round stoppage loss to Joe Joyce back in September of 2022. It's been awhile since you can point to a particular performance of his where you were all that impressed by him. But with that said, he is still rated fifth by Ring.
Can Parker survive the expected early fireworks from Wilder? And what happens if Wilder(ranked third by Ring) is forced to go into the later rounds given his recent inactivity?
Should both Joshua and Wilder come out victorious, it looks like they will finally meet in the upcoming year.
- Daniel Dubois vs Jerrell Miller
This could be a real slugfest between two big guys looking to move back up the heavyweight ladder. The last time we saw Dubois(19-2, 18 KOs) he was halted in nine by unified champion, Oleksandr Usyk, back in August. Some are now questioning his heart based on the nature of his two defeats, but he is a heavy handed guy, and still just 26 years old.
Miller(26-0-1, 22 KOs) at one time was lined up to face Joshua at the Madison Square Garden before popping hot on a drug test in 2019. His career has never really recovered and to many he is a pariah. Since serving his multi-year suspension, he has notched three victories leading into this contest this weekend.
'Big Baby' has never been shy about expressing himself, and he has made himself the center of attention for this promotion. If he can defeat Dubois, Miller -- for better or worse -- will find himself back in the mix in the heavyweight division.
- Dmitry Bivol vs Lyndon Arthur
So there is non-heavyweight boxing on this bill. Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who was the 2022 fighter of the year, and the 2023 non-fighter of the year, finally gets back into action. Last year Bivol defeated Canelo Alvarez, and then Gilberto Ramirez. Unfortunately, as he kept chasing a rematch with Alvarez, Bivol was stuck on the sideline. Now, the hope is that after this bout, he will finally get his long awaited showdown with Artur Beterbiev (who has his own business to take care off versus Callum Smith in early January) for all the marbles at light heavyweight.
- Jai Opetaia vs Ellis Zorro
It wasn't too long ago that the talented Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) was the IBF cruiserweight champion. But the organization made the illogical move in forcing his hand to face his mandatory who would not be available on this date. So Opetaia made the decision to vacate this title and go on with this lucrative payday.
His case will be an interesting one moving forward. Opetaia is the games best cruiserweight, and the Ring Magazine champion. In the past, fighters needed the belts to hold their value, especially in a division like cruiserweight where options are relatively limited. But if more entities like the ones who are funding this event in Saudi Arabia, and networks who provide the license fees for fight cards are willing to recognize boxers like Opetaia and their status, perhaps the sport wont be so beholden to these organizations moving forward.
Here's this weeks episode of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and myself. We discuss the big victory from Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez, the Showtime finale, and a preview of the aforementioned card from Saudi Arabia:
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'Day of Reckoning' can be purchased on pay-per-view by DAZN subscribers for $39.99. The broadcast starts at 11 am, ET/8 am, PT on Saturday....And it can be purchased on ESPN+...Top Rank has announced that on March 2nd they will televise a bout between Raymond Ford and Otabek Kholmatov for the vacant WBA featherweight title. Also on this bill, IBF featherweight titlist, 'Venado' Lopez defends against Reiya Abe. This card will take place at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY....Will Devin Haney-Ryan Garcia actually come to fruition?.....Is it really raining in Southern California?....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.....