Featured image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.
Two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua forced a fifth-round stoppage of Otto Wallin in Riyadh as he continues to plot a route back to world title shots.
The Briton was dominant throughout the five rounds before Wallin’s trainer Joey Gamache saved his man from further punishment between the fifth and sixth to mark Joshua’s third victory in as many outings in 2023.
A potential showdown with former titleholder Deontay Wilder was touted for 2024 should both avoid defeat but the American was dominated by New Zealand’s Joseph Parker over 12 in the co-main event.
British heavyweight Daniel Dubois also forced a tenth-round stoppage over Jarrell Miller in his first fight since a ninth-round stoppage loss to Oleksandr Usyk in August.
Joshua back to his best in Riyadh
Joshua persistently penetrated the Swede’s guard before regularly following up with piercing right crosses.
The former champion opened a cut under the right eye of Wallin in the third who proved too easy a target to hit for Joshua who looked as sharp as he’s ever been in a professional ring.
A variety of shots to head and body continued to cut Wallin down with Joshua continuing to close the distance in search of a second consecutive knockout after an August victory over Robert Helenius.
The moment looked as though it would come in the fifth after Wallin was rocked by a Joshua left hook which left him stumbling to the ropes with one minute remaining in the round.
A calculated Joshua continued to stalk his man around the ring and while Wallin survived the round, his nose was bloodied and Gamache had seen enough.
“This is elite level boxing. The Day of Reckoning was an amazing card and Wilder just came up short but he’ll live to fight another day,” Joshua said at a post-fight press conference.
“Me and him can still get it on. I believe I’m a massive threat and so is he. I think it’ll still do massive numbers.”
Wilder hints at retirement after Parker loss
Former WBO heavyweight champion Parker boxed perfectly to the gameplan devised by trainer Andy Lee to scupper any chances of a Joshua-Wilder showdown in 2024.
America’s Wilder meanwhile circled the ring but offered little output to put a dent in the New Zealander who secured his fourth consecutive victory, with all four coming this year.
Parker looked to force a stoppage in the eighth as the Alabama man looked to retreat to the ropes after taking multiple Parker hooks on the chin.
Wilder’s legs unsteadied and while he survived he cut a peculiar lethargic figure and never looked to force the type of stoppage victories he has become so synonymous with.
Parker lost a unanimous decision to Joshua in 2018 which saw him surrender his WBO belt but the 31-year-old is open to a second run with the Brit next year.
“First things first, we’re gonna have a nice break. We all want to go see our families but we are ready for whatever fight they wanna make,” he said post-fight.
Wilder meanwhile had only fought a single round in two years heading into the night and endured the full 12-round distance for the first time since December 2018.
The now 38-year-old however hinted that the outing may be his final appearance in the professional ring.
“We’ll see what happens, we still have a little bit left, but I did a great job managing my money. I’m a happy fighter, I’ll be back and if not, then it’s been a pleasure,” he said.
“I don’t know [if I still have the same fire], a lot has calmed me down. I’ve been wearing this smile all week long and I will still wear it. Nothing can stop me on that.”