The best thing about December 23’s ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Saudi Arabia? It’s a Christmas gift for boxing – full of star fighters and brilliant match-ups.
This year has been a bad one for heavyweight boxing.
First Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk‘s undisputed fight went up in smoke. Then Dillian Whyte failed a drugs test just days before facing Anthony Joshua. Big names like Deontay Wilder haven’t fought. Usyk has fought once. So has Fury – and it was in a crossover bout. Meanwhile, influencer boxing has taken centre stage with headlines being dominated by farcical scenes.
If 2023 was like a shot of vodka your friends force you to drink on a night out, this epic festive card is the sweet chaser. Saudi Arabia has taken a lot of flack after dominating a number of sports – but they know how to put on a fight night.
Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder lead a star-studded bill on December 23 in Saudi Arabia and one that is arguably the best card in boxing history
Saudi Arabia certainly knows how to put on a fight night after staging Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou
We’ve got Joshua up against Otto Wallin – the tough Swedish fighter whose only career loss came against Fury, who was left needing 47 stitches above his left eye.
Then Wilder will go up against Joshua’s former opponent Joseph Parker, who reigned as world champion between 2016 and 2018 and who, despite having three losses on his record, is tough as nails.
If that’s not enough, there’s more heavyweight fireworks as Daniel Dubois will look to brush off his controversial loss to Usyk by taking on Jarrell Miller – who infamously failed a drugs test in 2019.
Then highly-rated Cuban fighter Frank Sanchez will face Junior Fa – and to top it all off, pound-for-pound star Dmitry Bivol will finally return to action by defending his WBA lightweight world title against British star Lyndon Arthur.
To quote the famous Gladiator film line – ‘Are you not entertained?!’ Well if not, there will also be appearances from feared heavyweight Filip Hrgovic and cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia.
Joshua will face Otto Wallin (L) in a huge scrap, while Wilder fight Joseph Parker (R) on the same card
Pound-for-pound fighter Dmitry Bivol is also set to feature against Brit Lyndon Arthur
It’s hard to think what more you could want as a boxing fan – and it certainly doesn’t get better than this as far as quality goes and the promise of entertaining clashes.
DAY OF RECKONING CARD
Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin
Deontay Wilder vs Joseph Parker
Daniel Dubois vs Jarrell Miller
Dmitry Bivol vs Lyndon Arthur
Jai Opetaia vs Ellis Zorro
Frank Sanchez vs Junior Fa
Filip Hrgovic vs Mark De Mori
Arslanbek Makhmudov vs Agit Kabayel
Boxing cards are usually dominated by the main event – with the chief support often the only other exciting element after a flurry of unenticing fights between young and unheard of fighters.
But on December 23 – there almost is no main event. It’s a showcase and a festival of boxing between some of the top talents in the sport. It’s what we want to see as fans and it’s the type of event that can breathe new life into boxing.
Looking back into the past, you have to do some digging to find a card that was anywhere near as memorable – though there have been a handful that produced some high-profile fights.
When Floyd Mayweather Jr faced Miguel Cotto in 2012 as the headliner, fans had already witnessed some big names grace the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Just before ‘Money’ beat his Puerto Rican rival unanimously, Canelo Alvarez had been in action against Shane Mosley, also winning via a decision.
You also had former world champions Jessie Vargas – who beat Steve Forbes – and Keith Thurman – who KO’d Brandon Hoskins.
Daniel Dubois is another star name on the card, competing against American Jarrell Miller
Matchroom chief Hearn, meanwhile, has previously been bullish about the cards he puts on and his event headlined by Joseph Parker and Dillian Whyte in 2018 was certainly impressive.
The main event – which saw Whyte outpoint Parker after both men were knocked down – was supported by an explosive contest between Dereck Chisora and Carlos Takam – which the Brit won by KO.
Meanwhile, Katie Taylor was present for another world title defence – and Conor Benn was also on the card as he defeated Cedric Peynaud in a rematch after their entertaining first fight a year prior.
There have been some impressive cards in boxing history – including the event preceding Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto in 2012
Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora also headlined a packed card in 2021
And another event Hearn put in 2021 was even more jam packed with high-profile stars.
In addition to a fiery heavyweight clash to lead the bill between Parker and Chisora, he had Bivol fighting Craig Richards as the chief support, while Taylor defeated Natasha Jonas in an all-British female world title too.
Then there was Chris Eubank Jr in action against Marcus Morrison and Campbell Hatton – son of legendary fighter Ricky – making just his second pro appearance.
Still, none of those compare to the glitz and glamour that is promised next month – an event which boasts star names as well as genuinely exciting match-ups.
Joshua knows he can stay on course for a huge match up with Deontay Wilder should he win
Joshua and Wallin is a rematch of their two amateur bouts – won by Joshua in 2010 and 2011 – and will be a tough fight for the Brit.
Wallin is on a streak of six straight victories, including creditible wins over Dominic Breazeale and former cruiserweight world champion Murat Gassiev.
For Wilder, this will be his hardest fight since losing for a second time to Tyson Fury in 2021. He ousted Robert Helenius in the first round in his last fight more than a year ago and will be looking to make a statement against Parker.
Wilder knows that if both he and Joshua come through their firghts, it will likely set up a lucrative showdown between the pair of them next year.
And a contest between Dubois and Miller promises to be epic – with both men possessing huge physical builds and boasting knockout power punches.