Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua could be prize of Saturday’s card

The best thing about the massive show Saturday in Saudi Arabia is the promise that Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua will meet in March if they win their fights in Riyadh and don’t get injured.

The card is stacked with big-name boxers but none is in a fight that can even be mentioned in the same sentence as Wilder vs. Joshua, which is one of the biggest possible matchups in the sport.

Wilder is scheduled to face former titleholder Joseph Parker Jr. after Joshua takes on Otto Wallin in the main event. They have agreed to meet on March 9 if all goes well.

Wilder vs. Joshua has been in the works since at least 2019, when they collectively owned all four of the major heavyweight titles. They have since suffered notable losses, Wilder in his second and third fights with Tyson Fury and Joshua in back-to-back bouts with Oleksandr Usyk.

However, even without title belts, they remain two of the most popular fighters in the world. And a victory would propel the winner toward another opportunity to become world champion.

Wilder is optimistic that it will happen but also cautious.

“That’s the biggest fight in the world,” Wilder told Sky Sports. “Now the moment has come where it’s the closest that it’s ever been in history right now. The closest that it’s ever been. I’m excited to say that. I’m not 100 percent sure that it’s going to happen. There’s a lot of things that has gone on, a lot of things that has been done.

“You can’t be 100 percent until that bell rings and that first punch has been thrown.”

Wilder and Joshua’s setbacks damaged the reputations of both men, although Joshua’s knockout loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. combined with two decision losses to the brilliant, but smaller Usyk clearly took a harder hit in terms of perception. Many have questioned Joshua’s mental toughness.

That includes Wilder, who fought bravely in the Fury fights.

“AJ seems to have lost the respect he once had,” Wilder told the Daily Mail“Now, with a few losses under his belt, everyone sees him as beatable and doesn’t hesitate to talk smack. That must be tough for him, going from widely respected to this. When I’m around him, I sense it.”

Joshua has tried to take such talk in stride, regardless of the source.

“I’m pretty laid back,” he said, per “I’m pretty chill. I don’t hear it all. I put my earplugs in. I’m very level-headed. I know that one good fight leads to another good fight. If I get past Wallin, Wilder is probably next. If I don’t get past Wallin, who knows what’s next?”

Of course, the fact that Wilder was brutally knocked out by Fury in back-to-back fights in 2020 and 2021, combined with his relative inactivity, also could be of concern.

He has fought only once since the second loss to Fury, a first round knockout of Robert Helenius in October of last year. That means he will have fought on one round the past two-plus years.

The 38-year-old from Alabama said the break has done him good.

“[Inactivity has] been great for me,” he said. “I’ve been in my happy place. This camp has been magnificent. … We are just tightening and sharpening up things. I’m ready to perform. …

“Deontay Wilder is scary and dangerous on any given day or night. They love a knockout artist, and I’m looking forward to fulfilling that.”

If he and Joshua can get it done on Saturday, we could be in for a truly special night three months later.


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