Heavyweight rivals Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will fight on the same blockbuster card at Riyadh's Kingdom Arena on December 23 as a prelude to them finally meeting in 2024.
The event, billed as "Day of Reckoning", was announced at a London press conference on Wednesday and is the latest spectacular boxing show of Riyadh Season, the kingdom’s annual programme of arts, culture and entertainment.
Joshua (26-3), a two-time heavyweight champion, takes on the dangerous southpaw contender Otto Wallin while Wilder, the former WBC champion, faces New Zealand’s ex-WBO belt holder Joseph Parker.
Should they both be successful it is expected that Joshua and Wilder will finally meet next after many years of circling one another.
"I know where I want to go, what I want to do," said Joshua. "I am sticking to that plan. I am a man of my word, I stand firm on what I believe and I believe I am going to be three-time heavyweight champion of the world.
"My first stop to that, getting in the rankings, is putting on a demolition job against Otto Wallin."
Asked if he sees himself fighting Wilder after Wallin, he said: "Yeah, I do. Good luck to him but I 100 per cent see us fighting."
The eight-bout December 23 card replaces the postponed heavyweight unification between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. Fury sustained unexpected punishment in his "Battle of the Baddest" showdown with ex-UFC star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on October 28.
A press conference has been called for Thursday to announce a new date for Fury-Usyk, with February 17 thought to be most likely. That raises the possibility of Saudi Arabia cementing its status as the new home of heavyweight boxing by potentially hosting both Usyk-Fury and Joshua-Wilder in the first half of 2024.
First up for Joshua is Wallin, however, and this event brings the London 2012 gold medallist back to Saudi Arabia for a third time following two previous world title bouts in the kingdom. The 34-year-old regained the WBA, WBO and IBF titles from Andy Ruiz in December 2019 before dropping a rematch against Usyk in Jeddah last summer having lost the belts to the Ukrainian in London in September 2021.
Wallin (26-1), a New York-based Swede trained by Joey Gamache, is best known for giving Fury one of his toughest nights and is in good form having claimed a unanimous decision over Russia’s Murat Gassiev in September.
The 32-year-old, who twice lost to Joshua in the amateur ranks, clearly angered the Briton by claiming his opponent had "peaked in 2018" and the two later shared a bad-tempered face off.
The heavy-hitting Wilder, who has 42 knockouts in 43 wins with two losses and one draw, will be fighting in Saudi Arabia for the first time. The 38-year-old American, who won the WBC crown in 2015 and successfully defended it 10 times, has only fought once since back-to-back defeats by Fury in 2020 and 2021. That was a one-round demolition of Finland’s Robert Helenius last October.
Parker (33-3), meanwhile, returned to form with a one-sided three-round beating of Canada’s Simon Kean on the Fury-Ngannou show.
The card features four further intriguing heavyweight clashes as former world title challenger Daniel Dubois and Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller square off, as will fellow giants Frank Sanchez and Junior Fa, while Filip Hrgovic battles Mark de Mori and Arslan Makhmudov takes on Agit Kabayel.
Also in action is Russia's undefeated WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (21-0), who will take on Britain's Lyndon Arthur. Bivol hasn't fought since comprehensively outclassing Gilberto Ramirez at Abu Dhabi's Etihad Arena in October 2022.
Australia's rising star Jai Opetaia (23-0), the IBF cruiserweight champion, completes the line-up with a defence of his title against Britain's Ellis Zorro (17-0).