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Boxing fans are hoping for a dream Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder showdown next year… but their Saudi opponents Otto Wallin and Joseph Parker are the men standing in the way of the fight becoming a reality

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Boxing has seen its fair share of dream fights that either take too long to happen, or never get going at all.

While a British showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury looks doubtful, another heavyweight clash looks like it has real legs of taking place next year 

Joshua vs Deontay Wilder is a fight that boxing fans have been dying to see for years, ever since their failed talks over a bout back in 2017.

While both men have lost their unbeaten records and heavyweight titles since then, it is still a huge money-making fight and it is one that could be on the cards despite the disappointment of them not squaring off in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

ESPN claimed that the duo agreed a deal to return to Saudi Arabia to fight on March 9, 2024. However, there are two obstacles standing in the way – Otto Wallin and Joseph Parker

Boxing fans hope to see Anthony Joshua fight Deontay Wilder

The pair have reportedly agreed a fight for March 9, 224, in Saudi Arabia

Boxing fans are hoping for a dream heavyweight showdown involving Anthony Joshua (left) and Deontay Wilder (right) next year – with talks that the will fight in Saudi Arabia in March

Otto Wallin is one of two boxers who stand in their way - as he fights Joshua on Saturday

Otto Wallin is one of two boxers who stand in their way – as he fights Joshua on Saturday

Joseph Parker meanwhile will provide a stern challenge for Wilder in the co-main event

Joseph Parker meanwhile will provide a stern challenge for Wilder in the co-main event

Joshua is set to square off with Otto Wallin, whilst Wilder will go toe-to-toe with New Zealand’s Joseph Parker. 

Both Joshua and Wilder are considerable favourites going into the ‘Day of Reckoning’ supercard – though their opponents shouldn’t be downplayed.

Joshua’s Swedish opponent Wallin has tasted defeat just once in his career – against Tyson Fury back in September 2019 – and holds a 26-1 record with an additional fight which ended in a no contest after an opponent suffered a cut from an accidental headbutt.

Fury took the victory by unanimous decision, but the Gypsy King survived a scare after he suffered multiple cuts including a deep wound over his right eye. 

Former undisputed champion Lennox Lewis said that even in defeat Wallin’s stock rose, and that the ‘most impressive job of the night’ went to Fury’s cutman after fears the fight could be stopped. 

It’s perhaps no surprise then that Joshua said he predicts ‘blood and bruises’ during an interview with TNT.  

Since then Wallin has taken six straight wins over the likes of Dominic Breazeale, Rydell Booker, and most recently Murat Gassiev for the WBA inter-continental heavyweight title. 

It’s a fight that some have called ‘risky’ for Joshua to take on, with Fury’s father, John, insisting that that he will be ‘tested like he has never been tested before’. 

Wallin pushed Tyson Fury to the limits in the only defeat of the Swede's career to date

Wallin pushed Tyson Fury to the limits in the only defeat of the Swede’s career to date

Fury suffered gruesome cuts to his eye during one of the toughest fights of his unbeaten career

Fury suffered gruesome cuts to his eye during one of the toughest fights of his unbeaten career

There were fears the fight could be stopped but Fury recovered to topple the game Wallin

There were fears the fight could be stopped but Fury recovered to topple the game Wallin

He told Boxing Social: ‘I think if I was looking after him I wouldn’t have picked Wallin.

‘When AJ is like he is, he’s on a comeback trail, he’s had a few setbacks, you want a confidence builder.

‘And this ain’t a confidence builder, this is a bloody hard fight.’

Joshua is coming off victories against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius, but Wallin believes that the Brit is ‘not at his peak’.

He told TNT: ‘I am coming off a great win, best win of my life, and now right back in there to fight AJ. I think I’m in a really good place and he is not at his peak.

‘He is coming off a good win against Helenius but he was supposed to win that. I think I am in a really good position and I don’t think the same for him.

‘I am going to do whatever it takes to win. I have been working for this my whole life and I am ready for it.’

There are some who feel that the fight against southpaw Wallin is a 'risky choice' for Joshua

There are some who feel that the fight against southpaw Wallin is a ‘risky choice’ for Joshua

Joshua, in an interview with Mail Sport, discussed his fight against Wallin and the perception he struggles against southpaws after back-to-back losses against Oleksandr Usyk.

‘It will be really good. It will be entertaining, tough, gruelling, challenging. I will rise to the occasion. My goal is to have my hand risen at the end as well. I will rise to the challenge and that will lead me to having my hand risen at the end.

‘I got beaten by one of the best southpaws in the world. Could I have done better, 100 per cent. Will I do better if I have another chance? Yes. But, I just got beaten by a better fighter than me on the night.

‘It’s not that I struggle with southpaws. I struggled with the opponent on the night. Otto Wallin is a completely different opponent. Let’s just see how we get on this Saturday night.’

In the other co-main event, Wilder – who has only fought once since his second defeat to Fury in October 2021 – takes on Parker. 

Parker’s record suggests he’s not quite the same challenge as what Wallin will be for Joshua at 33-3. He suffered back-to-back defeats in 2018 against Joshua and Dillian Whyte with his third defeat coming against Joe Joyce in September 2022. 

There will be fears whether Parker can contend with Wilder’s big right hand, but the New Zealander is no slouch with 20 career knockouts to his name. 

Wilder's opponent Parker (right) has been sparring with the American's conqueror Fury

Wilder’s opponent Parker (right) has been sparring with the American’s conqueror Fury

Wilder is a heavy favourite and Parker will need to avoid his opponents dangerous right hand

Wilder is a heavy favourite and Parker will need to avoid his opponents dangerous right hand

He possesses the speed advantage and trains with the Gypsy King who has experience of beating Wilder.

Parker told talkSPORT: ‘Tyson was able to give me some advice and some knowledge on fighting Deontay Wilder. The only difference is I’m not 6ft 9in with the longest reach, so whatever my strengths are I have to use them to the best of my ability.

‘He has given me a few pointers and advice and he’s actually helped me with sparring.’

Parker also doesn’t have the ring rust that Wilder could potentially have, after he last fought on October 28, winning the vacant IBF and WBO inter-continental heavyweight titles against Simon Kean in Saudi Arabia. 

There is more confidence within the boxing world at a convincing Wilder victory and the American himself said he expects to knock his opponent out within three to four rounds. 

Parker has the better speed and fought just two months ago - while Wilder could arguably be more rusty seeing that he's only fought once since his second defeat to Fury in October 2021

Parker has the better speed and fought just two months ago – while Wilder could arguably be more rusty seeing that he’s only fought once since his second defeat to Fury in October 2021

Joshua and Wilder can’t afford to lose their fights this weekend, even if the American has suggested he would fight his British rival if he loses to Wallin. 

The likelihood of the fight takes a severe dent if one of them tastes defeat as their path could move in opposite directions – instead of closing in at the same place if reports of their fight on March 9 are finalised. 

Both are confidence ahead of their respective bouts this weekend, but Wallin and Parker will go out aiming to spoil the party.