British-Nigerian Anthony heavyweight pugilist, Anthony Joshua, produced his best performance in years to stop Otto Wallin after five rounds in the co-main event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
In contrast, Deontay Wilder suffered only the third defeat of his professional career as Joseph Parker earned a unanimous decision victory in their world heavyweight fight at the same venue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Joshua, 34, previously suffered back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021 and August 2022 but the win over Wallin, a third victory in a far more active 2023, and the manner of it confirmed a return to somewhere near his best.
The former WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion came out of the traps fast and kept his foot on the pedal with a vicious flurry to close the fifth round enough for the Swede’s corner to wave the fight off.
Asked if it was the Joshua of old, the Brit said: “It’s just another fight. I respect Otto. Not so much a throwback fight, just another day in the office.
“Victory by any means. Like Otto, you want to do whatever it takes to be victorious. That’s all I want to be.”
Earlier pound-for-pound king and WBA (Super) light-heavyweight title holder Dmitry Bivol earned a comfortable points win over Lyndon Arthur while Daniel Dubois stopped American Jarrell Miller in the final round of a heavyweight contest.
Wilder, 38, had earned the reputation of one of the most feared one-punch knockout artists of his generation but never looked close to living up to that lofty billing in a hugely disappointing first outing in 14 months with plans for a much-anticipated meeting with Anthony Joshua now surely shelved.
Joshua, by contrast, produced his best performance in years to stop Otto Wallin after five rounds in the co-main event.
Wilder knocked out Robert Helenius inside three minutes in October 2022 but was a shadow of himself at the Kingdom Arena with Parker, a former WBO world champion himself, the consistent aggressor and deserved victor.
“I’m back,” said the New Zealander in the ring as the victory was confirmed.
“We trained very hard for this, we had momentum. I was really fit, stayed calm and relaxed. I focused for every minute of every round. People had plans, but this was God’s plan. Merry Christmas to us.”
Parker was a deserved winner in Riyadh (Richard Pelham/Getty Images)
Parker, 31, landed the more consistent shots, working his jab with regularity and — crucially — staying well clear of Wilder’s dangerous right hand.
He has now won four straight fights, all this year, after losing to Joe Joyce in September 2022 and will now surely set his sights on even bigger fights in 2024.
Wilder’s future looks a lot less clear with the fighter who pushed Tyson Fury all the way in a trilogy of fights in 2018, 2020 and finally in 2021 perhaps now consigned to the past.
“My timing was off a little bit,” he said. “Joseph did a great job. No excuses tonight, a good fight and we move on to the next thing. Stay calm and throw a couple of jabs and set up the right hand. Timing was off, he did a good job of avoiding and ducking.
“I felt I had the upper hand. I’m a happy fighter. I’m a warrior, I’ll be back soon. And if not then, it’s been an enjoyment and a pleasure. I appreciate everybody for the love and support over the years.
“I’ve calmed down. I’ve found a lot of happiness in my life. Win, lose or draw, I’ll wear my smile.”