Predictions: Will Joshua and Wilder avoid upsets in Saudi Arabia?

Fighting

Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are set for a March 2024 fight — if they both win on Saturday in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua faces Otto Wallin and Wilder takes on Joseph Parker at the big “Day of Reckoning” PPV from DAZN.

PLUS! Dmitry Bivol returns and a bunch more fights on the card! We’ve got our picks in!

Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin

Scott Christ (103-41)

Lot of talk out there about how cautious AJ has been in recent fights with Derrick James, and I get that. But Wallin isn’t exactly aggressive and isn’t a very big puncher. Outside of being a southpaw with decent skills, I just don’t see what he has to beat even the AJ of the Jermaine Franklin fight, and to be clear, listen, we’ve all seen boxing — it’s going to take something really special to derail Joshua vs Wilder on the score cards on Saturday.

So unless Wallin cracks him and stops him, I just can’t see Otto winning here. He might nick some rounds along the way, but he’s kind of a one-speed fighter, whereas AJ does have more gears to get into, as we saw against Robert Helenius last time out — brief, yes, but all that was needed.

I also have the gut feeling AJ gets a bit more aggressive in the middle rounds here. He’ll feel it out and see what’s what, and then turn it on and get a Statement Stoppage. Joshua TKO-8

Wil Esco (112-32)

Despite whatever questions you have about Joshua, Wallin’s reputation is almost entirely based on cutting Tyson Fury that one time that could’ve arguably forced a stoppage. The fact is, however, that it didn’t and he lost that fight. Francis Ngannou also dropped Tyson Fury once, and I don’t think that makes him some great boxer either.

Bottom line is, Wallin might pose some difficulties for Joshua here, but I don’t think he beats him unless Joshua just completely folds. Joshua UD-12

John Hansen (103-41)

If there’s a major upset to be had on this card, this is the fight. Joshua has looked some variety of unsteady, uncertain, or uninspiring in every fight since his shocking upset loss to Andy Ruiz Jr four-and-a-half years ago, but he has managed to look at least 10-20 percent better than opponents beneath his talent level, and I think Wallin falls in that category.

Even in Wallin’s biggest performance, his success came early against Tyson Fury. And once Fury woke up, he dominated the last half of the fight. Joshua obviously knows what Wallin did that night, and won’t be surprised by him like Fury might have been. Joshua’s dominant strategy since Ruiz has been caution, and that should save him from any real threat Wallin will present. Joshua UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (107-37)

The current incarnation of Anthony Josha is not a great fighter. He is, in fact, a step below the one that put in a genuinely heroic effort against Oleksandr Usyk in last year’s rematch. The phenomenal athleticism and thudding power are still there, but he remains less than the sum of his parts, picking up and discarding potential archetypes like a hermit crab in desperate pursuit of something that fits.

He’s still better than Otto Wallin.

With all due respect to Wallin, gently tapping his way past the worst Murat Gassiev to ever enter the ring doesn’t qualify him to beat even a malfunctioning Joshua. Joshua has solid boxing fundamentals and at least a rudimentary notion of ring cutting, which allowed him to hunt down very capable technicians in the past. Even if Wallin does get off to a hot start, it’s not going to last, especially once his gas tank starts petering out and the footwork gap begins to close.

Wallin’s body of work is a few decent rounds against Tyson Fury, a unanimous decision over the shambling husk that was once Dominic Breazeale, and a split decision over a lead-footed cruiserweight. Anthony Joshua is still the man with more “name” wins than most of his peers combined. If he’s even at 40% efficiency, it’s a Joshua win. Joshua UD-12

Day of Reckoning: Press Conference

Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images

Deontay Wilder vs Joseph Parker

Scott Christ (103-41)

Parker’s gonna do well until he doesn’t, basically. That could be two minutes in, it could be in round 11. Wilder KO-7

Wil Esco (112-32)

Parker has better fundamental boxing ability than Wilder, who hasn’t had much ring time lately. But the real question is going to be whether or not Parker can avoid the bomb. I, for one, don’t think he’s going to be able to for the full 12 rounds, and therefore whether or not he’s down on points, I expect Wilder to force the stoppage to set up his showdown with Anthony Joshua. Wilder TKO-9

John Hansen (103-41)

Parker is going to go five, six, seven, maybe even 10 or 11 rounds, if he’s cautious enough. He’ll score rounds, he’ll outbox Wilder, and he could do it clearly enough and long enough to make us all start to wonder if maybe this time — and then, at some point, he’ll get caught by something that freezes him, or just straight up detonated by a single-shot Wilder right hand.

It doesn’t matter that Wilder is pushing 40 now, or that he’s fought less than one full professional round in the last 800-odd days. He has the most amazing magic trick in the sport of boxing, and the most devastating single punch I’ve ever seen. It’s a terror that only one man has managed to survive, and only then by a fraction of a second and a miraculous recovery of his senses. I think Parker is in the same tier as Luis Ortiz was when Wilder fought him: damn good, and plenty tough. So I’ll give him the friendly side of Ortiz’s average survival. Wilder KO-9

Patrick Stumberg (107-37)

There are genuine arguments for Parker pulling the upset. He’s arguably better than anyone Wilder has ever beaten and most definitely has faster hands than the lot. He’s 31 and entering his fourth fight of the year, while Wilder is 38 and has three minutes of ring time in the last two years. Wilder isn’t going to try and wear him down the way Joe Joyce did. Parker will absolutely fight safe if he doesn’t completely outclass his opponent, and with how little volume Wilder generally throws, I can absolutely see Parker winning rounds with single-digit punches.

There’s also the flippant argument, which is that Murphy’s Law means something has to derail Joshua vs Wilder and I don’t see Otto Wallin doing it. Parker UD-12

Quick Picks!

Notes: We are not picking the Filip Hrgovic vs Mark De Mori fight because it is genuinely, insultingly bad. We are also not picking the Frank Sanchez vs Junior Fa fight because in the glut of picks to include, Wil forgot that one, and I didn’t feel like emailing him at midnight about it. It’s the holidays for the love of Pete. — Scott

Dmitry Bivol vs Lyndon Arthur

  • Scott: Bivol UD-12
  • Wil: Bivol UD-12
  • John: Bivol UD-12
  • Patrick: Bivol UD-12

Jai Opetaia vs Ellis Zorro

  • Scott: Opetaia TKO-4
  • Wil: Opetaia TKO-5
  • John: Opetaia TKO-3
  • Patrick: Opetaia TKO-4

Daniel Dubois vs Jarrell Miller

  • Scott: Dubois TKO-8
  • Wil: Miller TKO-9
  • John: Dubois UD-12
  • Patrick: Dubois TKO-3

Arslanbek Makhmudov vs Agit Kabayel

  • Scott: Makhmudov TKO-5
  • Wil: Makhmudov TKO-7
  • John: Makhmudov UD-10
  • Patrick: Makhmudov TKO-2

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