The combat sports year will come to a close later TODAY (Sat., Dec. 23, 2023) as DAZN’s boxing extravaganza, “Day of Reckoning,” will go down form inside Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The mega-stacked pay-per-view (PPV) event will see Anthony Joshua take on Otto Wallin in the headliner, while the co-main event will feature Deontay Wilder facing off against Joseph Parker.
And it won’t cost you and arm and a leg to watch it, either.
Joshua was, at one point, the poster boy for boxing’s Heavyweight division after starting off his career perfect (22-0), winning just about every title imaginable. But, after he was knocked out by Anthony Ruiz in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport back in 2019 (watch highlights), “A.J.” has been up-and-down. Sure, he exacted revenge on Ruiz six months after his defeat, but has since only gone 3-2, with both of his losses coming consecutively against current WBA, WBO and IBF Heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk. Currently on a two-fight win streak, the hard-hitting big man will now attempt to continue his hot streak against Wallin, who is far from a pushover.
Winner of six straight, Wallin is WBA’s reigning intercontinental champion. His lone loss came against current WBC champion and long-time great, Tyson Fury, in Sept. 2019. With 14 of his 22 wins coming by way of knockout “All In” has the tools to get some good shots in on Joshua and potentially sleep him which, as we have seen in the past, can be done. Still, Joshua is the obvious favorite here and should walk away with the “W” if he doesn’t completely overlook his opponent. Because as we recently saw, anything can happen in the sport.
The only problem that I have with this card is we have both Joshua and Wilder competing … but they aren’t fighting each other. But, that’s okay, I guess, because all we have to do is wait a little while longer because they have agreed to collide in March 2024 … as long as they are both victorious in their respective bouts later today. That’s a big risk that I do not particularly care for because the promoters run the chance of ruining a fight that boxing fans have been craving for some time.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Dmitry Bivol is one of only two men to topple Canelo Alvarez (Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the other), defeating the hard-hitting Mexican-born champion in May 2022 (watch highlights) and followed that up with a win over Gilberto Ramirez to improve his record to 21-0, all while retaining WBA’s Super Light Heavyweight title. That said, he hasn’t scored a knockout in five years, winning eight straight decision in that span. He will defend his belt against Lyndon Arthur, IBO’s Light Heavyweight champion, who owns a record of 23-1. He is currently on a four-fight win streak, bouncing back nicely since getting knocked out by Anthony Yarde in Dec. 2021. This fight heavily favors Bivol, who is without a doubt one of the most underrated champions in the game despite his dominance.
Undefeated IBF and The Ring Cruiserweight roost-ruler, Jai Opetaia, is perfect (23-0) with 18 knockouts under his belt. He will look to continue his ascension up the boxing ladder when he battles fellow undefeated striker, Ellis Zorro, who boasts his own impressive record (17-0) with seven knockouts. In more Heavyweight action, Arslanbek Makhmudov will go blow-for-blow against Agit Kabayel. Makhumdov is the current WBC-NABF Heavyweight champion and is undefeated (18-0) with a highly-impressive 17 knockouts. At 34 years of age, the 6’6” behemoth packs scary power in both of his hands, winning 12 of them in the first round. Kabayel, meanwhile, is also perfect (23-0) with 15 knockouts on his resume. He is the current European champion and is looking to make a name for himself to score bigger and better fights in 2024 and beyond.
WBC Continent Americas champion, Frank Sanchez, will look to collect win No. 24 and remain undefeated against Junior Fa, who recently got back into the win column after suffering back-to-back losses to the aforementioned Joseph Parker and Lucas Browne ( the only two defeats of his professional boxing career). And kicking things off on the Heavyweight-filled event is a battle between Filip Hrgovic vs. Mark De Morio. Hrgovic is undefeated (16-0) with 13 knockouts and has only been fighting professionally for six years. He won the bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics for Croatia. Standing in his way is 18-year veteran, Mark de Mori, who has an astounding record of 41-2. During his extended career, he has racked up 36 wins by way of knockout … and the 41-year old shows no sings of slowing down.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Daniel Dubois is coming off a knockout loss at the hands of current WBA, WBO and IBF champion, Oleksandr Usyk, losing in the ninth round in Aug. 2023 (watch highlights). The loss snapped his four-fight win streak. He will face undefeated knockout artist, Jarrell Miller, who sports a record of 26-0-1. He’s knocked out 22 men and now looks for perhaps the biggest win of his combat career. As for Dubious, he can ill-afford to suffer his second straight loss because he will fall further and further away from the championship picture.
Interest Level: 9/10
In the co-main event, Wilder will face off against Parker. After back-to-back losses to the aforementioned Fury, Wilder returned after a lengthy hiatus to get back into the win column to defeat Robert Helenius. Now, he will attempt to secure his fights — they have agreed to two-fight deal — if he can defeat Parker, who holds the WBO and IBF intercontinental Heavyweight straps. Parker has three straight wins that he is enjoying and will look to score one of the biggest wins of his career. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some already, defeating the likes of Derek Chisora and Anthony Ruiz.
Wilder, meanwhile, has long been one of the most devastating punchers in the sport. His length and power make him ever-so dangerous. WBC’s former Heavyweight champion ran the boxing world with 10 title defenses before running into “Gypsy King.” While Wilder does have two potential big-money fights against Joshua looming (if he gets a win), he can’t overlook Parker or he could wind up on his back looking up at the lights. That said, it’s very hard not to look ahead at a big payday that he’s long been wanting.
This truly is one of the most stacked boxing cards ever. It’s just something you never see, having so many big names — current and former world champions — on the same card. But, that is the luxury of having that “Saudi money” to be able to throw around. All that is left to do is to sit back to see if it will actually deliver the goods. With so many heavy hitters ready to give it their all, I don’t see how it won’t.
Enjoy the fights!
Full ‘Day Of Reckoning’ Fight Card:
Heavyweight: Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin
Heavyweight: Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker
Light Heavyweight: Dmitry Bivol (c) vs. Lyndon Arthur
Heavyweight: Daniel Dubois vs. Jarrell Miller
Cruiserweight: Jai Opetaia (c) vs. Ellis Zorro
Heavyweight: Arslanbek Makhmudov vs. Agit Kabayel
Heavyweight: Frank Sanchez vs. Junior Fa
Heavyweight: Filip Hrgovic vs. Mark De Morio
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