Why AJ vs Wilder in 2024 is closer than ever

Why AJ vs Wilder in 2024 is closer than ever  It’s not quite the present we were all hoping for this Christmas but it’s pretty damn close. On December 23rd in Riyadh Saudi Arabia both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder will feature on the same card as anticipation continues to grow for their long-awaited encounter. Superfights failing to materialize is hardly a new trend when it comes to boxing but the past few years have been worse than usual and those frustrations began to simmer again in the aftermath of Tyson Fury’s clash with former UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. The Gypsy King’s underwhelming performance in the bout with the boxing newcomer left many thinking we would be left waiting even longer for a highly-sought after unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk. For the time being it seems those fears have been realized. Thankfully for boxing fans though, AJ and Wilder have stepped into the fold to stoke the fire once again and provide fresh hopes of a Heavyweight superfight coming sooner rather than later. There is still a job to be done in Riyadh however, and plenty of roadblocks to navigate before a pen is put to paper.

 

First up is AJ who will be taking on a tricky opponent in Otto Wallin. The 33-year-old Swede has not had many high-profile fights but is not to be underestimated with an impressive 26-1 record with 14 of those victories coming by way of knockout. Wallin is perhaps best known for giving Fury a scare back in 2019, opening up the WBC Heavyweight champion of the world just above the eye which required 47 stitches. The cut was so severe that there were genuine concerns the fight could have been called as Fury’s undefeated record was under serious jeopardy. Fury eventually won out with a unanimous decision but the Manchester born fighter had to dig deep to retain his crown. AJ will still arrive in Saudi Arabia on the 23rd the comfortable favourite but there have been question marks around the former two-time Heavyweight champion that suggest this will be no walk in the park. The 34-year-old from Watford has the better record at 26-3 with 23 knockouts but he failed to recapture the gold against Oleksandr Usyk and was less than convincing in his two most recent bouts against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius. He clearly has ambitions of reinserting himself into the Heavyweight title picture and will need to drastically improve on recent outings if he is to do just that. Simply put, Wallin will test the Brit’s mettle and Joshua will have to be at the top of his game to overcome this stubborn Swede. For those fancying a bet on the fight, online bookies have AJ as the 2/7 favourite to win.

 

As for Joshua’s long-term rival he has a very different challenge on his hands. The Bronze Bomber has been as inactive as it gets in the fighting world with only four fights since 2020 and similarly concerning for his preparations heading into a potential mega fight with Joshua is his recent record. The former WBC Heavyweight champion’s record over the last six fights stands at 3-2-1 with his undefeated streak in tatters and the aura of invincibility a thing of the past. He needs a dominant win in Saudi Arabia to get back on track but it’s unlikely to be a walkover. Former WBO Heavyweight champion Joshua Parker is no slouch and has an impressive 33-3 record with good reason. The New Zealander has been erratic in years gone by but he comes into this bout with more recent fight experience and is more than capable of scoring an eye-catching stoppage or two with 23 knockouts under his belt. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the 31-year-old will outbox Wilder for large parts of this fight and with the Alabama native coming in undercooked, maybe even the unthinkable knockout win is on the cards. The 38-year-old certainly has his work cut out but the fact is he still possesses the most powerful punch in the game and the onus will be on Parker avoiding a direct hit rather than Wilder getting the job done. The Bronze Bomber comes in as a 1/6 favourite and he will need to live up to that billing to set up an encounter with Joshua in the near future.

 

Both AJ and Wilder are on the comeback trail after definitively losing their titles to Usyk and Fury and both could do with a landmark victory to get them back in the title fight picture. Should they through December 23rd unscathed then expect sparks to fly in the post-match interviews with these two heavyweight juggernauts within arm’s reach. The chances of both fighters staring each other down with a face to face encounter in the aftermath of the event seem high and rest assured the clamour for Joshua vs Wilder will only intensify from there. For years the rival promoters have failed to manifest a monumental meeting between the two icons, but should they score the wins they need on The Day of Reckoning card, then all signs point to their titanic clash in 2024.