Dangerous puncher Deontay Wilder feels his upcoming fight should be the headliner of the heavyweight-majority card on Dec. 23 in the Middle East.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s Wilder is scheduled to take on fellow former titlist Joseph Parker in a 12-round bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, two days before Christmas. The headliner of that card is London’s Anthony Joshua, who will take on southpaw Swede Otto Wallin in a 12-round bout.
The card has received outsize attention because it is the second significant boxing event that backers—chiefly Turki Alalshikh—in Saudi Arabia have scheduled in just three months. Last month, the country hosted the heavyweight curio between WBC titlist Tyson Fury and former UFC champion and boxing newbie Francis Ngannou. Riyadh will host yet another major fight in mid-February, when it stages the undisputed heavyweight championship between Fury and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk.
The Dec. 23 card is also notable in that it will feature a slew of top heavyweights from across the promotional spectrum, including an intriguing bout between Daniel Dubois and Jarrell Miller, as well as the return of Frank Sanchez and Filip Hrgovic. Light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol and cruiserweight titlist Jai Opetaia will also appear on the same card.
In Wilder’s view, his fight with Parker deserves to preside over all these fights as the main event, even over that of Joshua vs. Wallin —if only because of his propensity to deliver telegenic knockouts.
“That’s why I think me and Parker should be the main event,” Wilder told ESNews. “We’re also two former champions. Why wouldn’t you have two former champions as the main event?”
“I requested a flip of the coin,” Wilder continued. “Maybe at the presser. I think that would be good promotion. … I think that would spice it up a little bit. This is not a Joshua show, this is not my show, this is all of our show. The thing about it is that I want the best for all of them. I want things to happen where the excitement is going to be.
“We know that between Joshua and Otto Wallin and me and Parker, which one do you think is the most exciting? And I feel the most exciting fight should be the main event. At the end of the day when people come to fights, they want to see knockouts. They want to see excitement. Women lie, men lie, but my numbers don’t lie. I have a more chance of knocking my opponent out than Anthony Joshua do and bring the excitement. The last thing that people want to see and go home to: A dramatic knockout and then you leave.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.