Plus, Dubois on point, Bivol and Opetaia win on ‘Day Of Reckoning’
This article originally appeared on Steve Wellings’ Substack
Anthony Joshua’s rebuilding process continues to gather pace as the former unified world champion dished out a beating on Otto Wallin. Turning up in Saudi Arabia looking like a pudgy plodder, Wallin must now have his status as heavyweight boogeyman revoked.
Much of the Swede’s distress grew from Joshua’s front-foot delivery and powerful jab that kept Wallin in his box until the southpaw and his corner closed the lid and withdrew from the contest after suffering increasing facial damage in round five.
Following an impressive win on away soil over blown-up cruiserweight Murat Gassiev, Wallin was expected to cause issues for Joshua similar to the ones he posed against Tyson Fury in 2019. Motivated AJ had different ideas.
Unleashing a powerful left hook and right hand off the back of his ramrod rangefinder, Joshua grasped the early momentum and never let up. Wallin attempted to move to the side and land shots.
The man trained by Joey Gamache appeared leaden-footed, and the 33-year-old’s face displayed increasing battle scars as the short evening progressed.
2023 has proven to be a fruitful year for Joshua, who first beat Jermaine Franklin and then Robert Helenius before this latest domination. Each win has seen steady improvements. New coach Ben Davison was in his corner for this Riyadh Season attraction.
Victory for Joshua was supposed to open the door for a fight with Deontay Wilder. However, that on-off saga took another twist, as Wilder surprisingly lost widely to Joseph Parker.
Despite the setback, Joshua declared his interest in still fighting Wilder rather than Parker, whom he defeated in a messy 2018 affair. Taking to the mic, the Watford man declined an opportunity to grade his performance and described the win as just another day at the office. He’s right about that.
Retirement looms for listless Wilder after perfect Parker performance
Deontay Wilder reckons this is not the end despite conceding a wide points loss to Joseph Parker in Riyadh. Looking weak and physically fragile in the clinches, Wilder appears mentally finished at the top level, even if he refuses to admit it.
Tyson Fury had inflicted Wilder’s previous two defeats in gruelling back-to-back battles. Having participated in barely a round of action across two years, the manner of this latest defeat is all the more worrying as old tricks failed to work on savvy Parker.
Fighting without intimidation, Parker built an early lead on activity alone as Wilder stalked out of range, non-commital in his attacks. The frenzied bursts of old were missing. The jab, which often set up bludgeoning right hands, failed to land repeatedly.
Parker became the first man to remain standing for the full 12 rounds against Wilder. The Alabama man is now 38 and on the decline. Parker, trained by Andy Lee, worked in a disciplined stance and carried out his game plan, enabled by added fitness down the stretch where he often tires. An unexpected victor by suitably wide margins, the New Zealander now has a number of future options on the table.
While Wilder’s post-fight interview was heartwarming (he mentioned his children, family values and financial security), it hardly convinces the world that the stone-cold killer we once knew is still around. A fight with Anthony Joshua has been teased since 2017. For a variety of reasons, it has never come to pass.
Dangerous Dubois detonates the demons as Miller punished for his past
Daniel Dubois showed the rest of his ‘Day Of Reckoning’ cohort exactly how it’s done by blasting away Jarrell Miller in the final 10 seconds of an entertaining heavyweight slugfest.
Despite the American’s blubbery physique, Miller is able to set and maintain a decent pace. His main tactic involved marching forward behind a high guard, making Dubois work, hoping to gas out the Londoner late on. Daniel was equal to this strategy and showed excellent fitness from the first bell until the last.
Jarrell had served a lengthy ban for repeated drug offences yet found himself in a high-profile slot on this lucrative bill. The 35-year-old motormouth soaked up increasingly hard shots as the rounds fizzed by. Dubois stood off and used his jab to perfection, complimented by an energy-sapping left hook to the body and a sharp right uppercut.
Staggered in the eighth and visibly wilting in the ninth, Miller may be forgiven for thinking he had weathered the storm before Dubois pushed his foot down and unleashed the bombs in round 10. Miller tried to convince referee Michael Alexander that he was fit to continue. The referee correctly jumped in as he lay on the ropes.
This was a personal mental battle for Dubois as much as anything else. The man who lost his unbeaten record to Joe Joyce felt he was unlucky earlier this year when he landed a contentious shot on Oleksandr Usyk that almost earned him the heavyweight jewels.
“I want to fight all the best fighters,” proclaimed Dubois, who admitted he sought a confidence boost. The softly-spoken Englishman also had no ill will towards his victim despite Miller’s uncouth behaviour in the build-up.
Brilliant Bivol posts functional win over IBO King Arthur
Absent from the ring for 13 months, Dmitry Bivol returned with a routine 12-round points decision win over Lyndon Arthur. Bivol is levels above Arthur, yet chose to allow his foe to hear the final bell. This is nothing new for the Russian stylist who often fights down to his opposition.
Arthur used his hefty frame and long arms to ensure a minimal target was offered. It’s hard to knock out someone who refuses to be knocked out, and only in round 11 did the challenger succumb to the pressure and take a knee.
In one of the middle rounds, Bivol appeared to be hurt or at least discomforted from a right hand to the body. Arthur never followed up, and the TV replays did not show the incident. Arthur lost the IBO belt he won recently from Argentina’s Braian Suarez. The Manchester man was understandably negative and did not disgrace himself in defeat.
The three judges all posted identical scores of 120-107 in Bivol’s favour. The winner once again called out Artur Beterbiev provided his fierce compatriot gets past Callum Smith on January 13 in Quebec.
Monster Makhmudov humbled by confident Kabayel
The advertised Russian beast, Arslanbek Makhmudov, was supposed to be a handful for sprightly Agit Kabayel. It turned out the German’s hand and foot speed and a calculated body attack were the correct tools to dissect Makhmudov. The loser stretched out his neck repeatedly in an odd performance that saw him lumbering around the ring like Nosferatu lurking in the shadows.
Referee Mark Lyson called it off in round four as Makhmudov crumbled under repeated pressure. Kabayel’s lateral movement left Arslanbek swinging away with wild bombs. Once the heavy shots landed, it was only a matter of time.
Kabayel is the European champion and needs to increase his activity levels to flourish. It’s hard to overstate how novice-like and rudimentary the dire Canada-based Makhmudov was on the night.
Opetaia ices Zorro ahead of unification opportunities
“This is a bad, bad man in Opetaia!” exclaimed DAZN commentator Sergio Mora as Ellis Zorro ruefully rose to his feet. To be fair to Zorro, he was doing OK in the opening round until Jai Opetaia unleashed a fantastic left hand to send the Bromley man on his back, eyes rolling in the back of his head.
Southpaw Opetaia is too strong for this level of foe. Even though the IBF cruiserweight belt was stripped, the man described by Eddie Hearn as one of the most exciting fighters on the planet still holds number one status in his weight class. A clash with his fellow champions is now overdue.
Frank Sanchez steps it up to knock out Junior Fa
Frank Sanchez has found big fights hard to come by and needed a solid showing to dismiss the doubters. Frank got the job done eventually after a tentative start. Opponent Junior Fa showed a lot of bravery to keep getting up despite shipping well-placed blows from the ‘Cuban Flash’.
Fa was caught napping in round six when a prodding jab to the stomach, followed by a thumping right hand, landed on the chin and dropped the big man for a count. Had it been earlier in the round, the New Zealander may have found himself finished up.
That happened in round seven, as Fa hit the canvas twice more before referee Kevin Parker waved it off. Cuba’s Sanchez is tentative and conservative at the best of times.
Once the opponent was hurt, Sanchez dropped the negativity and stepped in with a combination. Contenders and champions won’t be inclined to fight him, just as many fans won’t be inclined to watch him.
Hrgovic makes light work of overmatched De Mori
In the most lopsided contest of the evening, Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic was expected to destroy Australia’s Mark De Mori. ‘The Viking’ pawed with a few sluggish jabs and felt the wrecking ball right hand in round one.
Slouched against the ropes, De Mori was withdrawn by a flick of the corner towel as he covered up to try and avoid an early onslaught. Highly-ranked Hrgovic loves a rabbit punch and needs better opposition.
Heavyweight boxing ‘Day of Reckoning’ full results
Anthony Joshua WON RTD5 Otto Wallin – Heavyweight, 12 rounds
Deontay Wilder LOST PTS12 Joseph Parker – Heavyweight, 12 rounds
Dmitry Bivol WON PTS12 Lyndon Arthur – Light-Heavyweight, 12 rounds
Daniel Dubois WON TKO10 Jarrell Miller – Heavyweight, 10 rounds
Jai Opetaia WON KO1 Ellis Zorro – Cruiserweight, 12 rounds
Arslanbek Makhmudov LOST TKO4 Agit Kabayel – Heavyweight, 10 rounds
Frank Sanchez WON TKO7 Junior Fa – Heavyweight, 10 rounds
Filip Hrgovic WON TKO1 Mark De Mori – Heavyweight, 10 rounds
Media Credits: Eurosport, Talksport, Yahoo Sports, DAZN, CBS Sports, Ring Magazine/Getty Images, Arab News, Sky Sports.
About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries: email@example.com.