Chances are that a backup plan will soon surface if it’s not already in place for Anthony Joshua.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s career-long promoter, didn’t seem terribly bothered about the lucrative first option that went up in flames. A March 9 super fight was in play versus Deontay Wilder, who failed to hold up his end as he was nearly shut out by New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in Saturday’s ‘Day of Reckoning’ co-main event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

England’s Joshua still had a job to do in the final fight of the night. The former two-time unified heavyweight titlist did it extraordinarily well as he dominated and stopped Otto Wallin (26-2, 15KOs) after five rounds.

“Anthony put in a performance that put the heavyweight division on notice,” Hearn insisted during the post-fight press conference.

Joshua (27-3, 24KOs) earned his third win of 2023, all on the heels of his second consecutive defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last August in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The one-sided affair over Wallin marked Joshua’s most fluid performance since his days as an undefeated titlist, at a time when his reign overlapped Wilder who held the WBC title from January 2015 until his seventh-round stoppage to Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) in their February 2020 rematch.

A dream fight between Joshua and Wilder was talked about for years in boxing circles but the politics never gave it a chance for it to become a remote possibility. Still, the efforts put forth to put together Saturday’s mega event in Riyadh was supposed to provide hope that boxing fans could finally clear off the long overdue bucket list entry.

Instead, Wilder was outclassed and made to look every bit the part of a 38-year-old former titlist who’d only fought one round in the past two years. New Zealand’s Parker (34-3, 23KOs) executed a perfect game plan mapped out by head trainer Andy Lee, an instrumental presence in the career of Fury including each of his two knockout wins over Wilder. The battle of former titlists was handily won by Parker, who previously held the WBO title which he lost to Joshua in the division’s last unification bout in March 2018 when both were unbeaten titlists.

There was no question that Parker won this fight by the time the bell sounded, yet Wilder repeatedly raised his arms as if the decision would go his way.  

“We’re so happy for Joe,” insisted Hearn. We had signed the Wilder contract. It was going to be announced [Sunday morning]. But that’s boxing. It’s one we believed we would win. If anyone was going to beat him, I was pleased it was Joe.

“[Wilder] looked terribly out of sorts. I didn’t even give him a round. Even as [the ring announcer] was reading out the decision, he was raising his hand as if he might get the decision. It was a strange performance, but we can only take care of what we do.”

One potential and discussed next option for Joshua is a fight versus Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 14KOs), who blew out grossly overmatched Mark De Mori inside of a round on the undercard. Such a fight would be largely—if not entirely—contingent upon the IBF title becoming vacant sometime after the February 17 Fury-Usyk undisputed championship in Riyadh.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox