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Joshua And Wilder To Fight On Same Card In Saudi Arabia

Former heavyweight world champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will fight separate opponents on the same night as part of a stacked card on 23 December in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Briton Joshua will face Otto Wallin, with American Wilder taking on former champion Joseph Parker.

If Joshua and Wilder both win, they could fight each other in 2024.

On the undercard, WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol defends his title against Manchester’s Lyndon Arthur.

Londoner Ellis Zorro will challenge WBC cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia, while British heavyweight Daniel Dubois will face American Jarrell Miller.

Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk was set to headline the event, but Fury’s difficult encounter with Francis Ngannou last month derailed those plans.

With the date less than six weeks away, Turki Alalshikh of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority and Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions have managed to finalise one of the strongest cards in boxing history.

Joshua and Wilder are on the comeback trail since losing their world titles to Usyk and Fury respectively.

Joshua, 34, is promoted by Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn, while 38-year-old Wilder has spent most of his career with Premier Boxing Champions and adviser Al Haymon, as well as being managed by Shelly Finkel.

Joshua is a two-time world champion with a record of 26 wins – including 23 stoppages – and three defeats.

Sweden’s Wallin, 32, has lost just once in 27 outings – a points defeat by Fury in 2019.

Wilder is one of the greatest knockout punchers in heavyweight history, with 42 stoppages in 43 wins. The only blemishes on his record – two defeats and a draw – have been at the hands of Fury.

World-title challenger Dubois – who lost to Usyk in August – will face the undefeated Miller.

The American tested positive for banned substances in 2019 and was withdrawn from a world-title shot against Joshua.

Russian Bivol will make an 11th defence of his world title against undefeated Zorro, while Arthur will challenge for a first world title against hard-hitting Australian Opetaia.

Earlier this year Joshua and Wilder were in talks with Saudi Arabia-based Skills Challenge about fighting, before discussions collapsed. Alalshikh’s outfit has now emerged as the power broker for boxing in the country.

The card is the latest high-profile sporting event to be hosted by Saudi Arabia, but the country’s increased involvement in global sport has proven controversial.

Saudi Arabia’s increasing desire to host elite sporting events – including boxing matches, an annual Formula 1 race and a bid for the 2034 World Cup – has brought scrutiny due to its poor human rights record.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, said in September that he “does not care” about accusations the country is “sportswashing” – investing in sport and using high-profile events to quell criticism of its practices and improve its international reputation.

In August, Saudi border guards were accused in a report by Human Rights Watch of the mass killing of migrants along the Yemeni border. Saudi Arabia has previously rejected allegations of systematic killings.

The scrutiny on Saudi Arabia has not, though, prevented elite-level sportspeople from competing there.

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