Saturday night is gearing up to be a blockbuster evening of boxing action with Great Britian well represented at the ‘Day of Reckoning’.
The much-anticipated event will be one of the biggest nights of boxing this year, with both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder headlining in separate fights.
All eyes will be on the heavyweights and should both win, with the pair in line to meet in a huge clash in 2024, ending what will have been six long years of negotiations.
According to boxing correspondent Dan Rafael, the two have reportedly agreed a two-fight deal to face each other, with ESPN claiming that their first fight will be on March 9, 2024.
But while both will have one eye on the future, the pair seem to be focused on their respective fights on Saturday night, with Joshua back in the ring for his third bout of the year after claiming back-to-back victories against Jermaine Franklin Jr and Robert Helenius.
Anthony Joshua will headline a blockbuster card at the ‘Day of Reckoning’ on Saturday
He’ll take on Otto Wallin, with several other British stars in action during the evening
A win could see him set up a bout with long-standing rival Deontay Wilder next year who is also set to fight Joseph Parker
He’ll take on Sweedish southpaw Otto Wallin in what will be a tough match-up for the 34-year-old.
And while it will be a huge night for the sport, it’ll also be a massive evening for British boxing, as several stars from the United Kindom will all step into the ring.
With Ellis Zorro, Daniel Dubois, Lyndon Arthur and Joshua all in action, Mail Sport takes a deep dive into what’s at stake for each fighter and their opponents this weekend.
Undefeated Zorro looks to ‘step up’ to the next level
It’s been a big year for the Lewisham-born fighter, Zorro, who is looking to extend his unbeaten record (17-0-0) with a win against Australian fighter Jai Opetaia.
This fight has been shrouded in a little bit of controversy after it was announced earlier this week that Opetaia would be stripped of his IBF world cruiserweight title.
It came after the Australian was meant to fight mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis, who is currently injured and had given Opetaia the green light to fight Zorro.
The New South Wales fighter was subsequently forced to vacate his IBF title – a decision that was blasted by Zorro’s promoter, Frank Warren, who said, according to the BBC, it was ‘It’s very short-sighted of the IBF if they go down this road.’
Opetaia said: ‘The fact is, Briedis isn’t ready to fight on December 23 and I need to stay active. I simply can’t turn down a career high payday. Belts should be won and lost in the ring and I’m still the Ring Magazine champion and all roads in the cruiserweight division go through me.’
Zorro, who signed with Queensberry Promotions in 2022, comes into this fight having claimed and defended the WBO European cruiserweight belt back in May.
He has faced tough opponents in Dec Spelman, Hosea Burton and luca D’Ortenzi in his previous three fights, but before signing with Queensberry, he plied his trade as a jeweller, working in his dad’s shop in Dartford.
The 31-year-old has had a successful career in the past, having also won the Boxxer cruiserweight competition in 2022 and that was just the start. Since then he’s been climbing up the division and now faces a big test in Opetaia, perhaps one of the most dangerous cruiserweights in the world right now.
Opetaia comes into the bout also looking to extend his unbeaten 23-fight record, but has only faced one opponent this year after he suffered broken jaw in 2022.
The pair will meet as one of the earlier fights on the card, with Opetaia’s experience making him the favourite to win.
Ellis Zorro is looking to extend his unbeaten record (17-0-0) with a win against Jai Opetaia
While Zorro claimed he was an underdog, the British fighter said that he was blocking out the noise and was excited to be on the same card as Anthony Joshua
The Australian was recently stripped of his IBF belt, meaning Zorro will not be able to challenge him for the title
But, while Zorro admitted that he may be an underdog, he was blocking out the chatter around the fight.
‘It’s hard to say how you beat an undefeated fighter, like there’s no blueprint with him. We’re in the same position so that’s how I look at it,’ he said speaking to IFL TV on his opponent.
‘Obviously, it’s a step up from all of my other opponents. But I was never the favourite to win against Dec Spelman. Never the favourite to win the Boxxer. Never the favourite to win against Hosea Burton.
‘Regardless of what everyone is saying, it doesn’t really affect me to be honest.’
Speaking on whether a victory could be the biggest upset on Saturday’s card, he said: ‘Yeah, based on what I’ve been reading there’s people saying I’m going to be a massive underdog and lose this fight. Maybe the Lyndon Arthur, Dmitry Bivol fight too. That’ll probably be the biggest upset.’
Can Dubois get back to winning ways?
This is arguably a clash that could be the fight of the night. And there’s no doubt Dubois has picked a tough opponent in Jarrell Miller with the Brit looking to return to winning ways since he was stopped in the ninth round of his fight against Oleksandr Usyk.
Dubois, a London-born fighter, felt ‘cheated’ after the fight in August, with Usyk being awarded the win after referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight after the Ukrainian had downed his opponent in the eighth and ninth rounds.
Despite that, the British fighter had knocked his opponent to the floor in the fifth round, with a controversial punch that split much opinion online, with fans divided on whether the strike was below the belt.
Yet, there is a lot riding on this fight for Dubois, with the 6ft 5in heavyweight looking to hit back at some of the critics who hit out at him after his fight against Usyk.
John Fury was one of those and in an interview with Boxing Social the father of WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson, claimed: ‘Daniel Dubois, a good kid, but his heart is questionable. He’s quit in two fights. That for me is a no-go area.
‘Miller, talented kid, fast hands, big guy. They’re so close you know. If Dubois’ balls were a bit bigger I’d say Dubois, but they’re not.’
As Fury says, Miller will be a tricky opponent for Dubois. He possesses a lot of experience, and an unbeaten record. But he has been embroiled in some controversy in the past, with the American having failed three drugs tests in the run up to his fight against Joshua in 2019.
Since then the pair have been engaged in a war of words that has seen Miller state this week that ‘nobody gives a s*** about Anthony Joshua’.
Daniel Dubois is looking to bounce back from a defeat against Oleksandr Usyk in August
He’ll take on Jarrell Miller, who has recently been embroiled in a war of words with Joshua
Equally, this fight presents a big opportunity for Miller. While it may seem like a sideshow to some of the tensions that have been bubbling away with him and Joshua, Miller comes into the bout having not fought since he defeated Lucas Browne in 2018. A win could strengthen his case in a bid to fight Joshua and would certainly improve his status in the heavyweight division.
But as Warren says, this is also a massive chance for Dubois to get back to winning ways.
‘There is so much riding on this for Daniel. This is must-win.’ the Queensberry Promoter said. ‘He could have won his last fight but something was just lacking at the end and he needs to address that, and this is the fight to do it.
‘Whether it’s self-belief or what, Daniel has to go out there and impose himself against Jarrell and get himself back to the big table. Otherwise he has a long road back.’
Arthur gets his shot at a heavyweight title
A shot at a heavyweight title doesn’t come around that often in your career but Manchester-born fighter, Arthur, has certainly earned his right to take on Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light heavyweight belt.
He’ll be putting his IBO title on the line for the bout and hopes to improve his record of having won 23 of his 24 professional bouts – notably claiming 16 wins by knockout.
Yes, he will be the underdog during this fight, but upsetting the odds is something he has experience in doing, having notably beaten Anthony Yarde in 2020.
‘I am a huge fan of Dmitry Bivol, I have watched him over the years and understand completely what I am coming up against,’ he said to The Metro.
‘You can’t really take anything from previous opponents. This is the elite. We are talking about the man who beat Canelo and beat him quite comfortably. There is nothing you can take lightly at all.
‘People like this are up there with people like Mayweather and names like that. They have a year off and come back and put on a boxing clinic. These kind of men can do that to you.’
The 32-year-old has only suffered one loss in his career, with Yarde avenging his previous defeat in their second meeting back in 2021. But since then, the 6ft 2in fighter has won his last four fights, claiming the IBO world light heavyweight title earlier in September.
Lydon Arthur will challenge Dmitry Bivol for the for the WBA light heavyweight belt
Bivol has not fought in over a year, but claimed a sensational victory against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez back in 2022
His opponent, Bivol, commands plenty of respect from those around the division, having clinched a landmark win against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, back in 2022.
But he knows the danger that his opponent, who is nicknamed ‘King Arthur’, possesses.
The Russian said: ‘I am excited and looking forward to fighting Lyndon, his record and his belt is a motivation for me,’ he said while in attendance at Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou’s clash in October.’
Despite that, Bivol hopes to become the undisputed light heavyweight champion and sees Arthur as a stepping stone to achieve that.
‘When I signed the contract with the Saudis for Lyndon Arthur, it wasn’t the main thing that they wanted. They want to make the undisputed fight in the light heavyweight division, and this is why I’m here,’ the Russian said to FightHype.
He added: ‘I hope that I win this fight, and my name fight will be for the undisputed in my weight class , not at super middleweight because the subject with Canelo is closed. I have my own way.’
‘I have to win’: Joshua aims for third-straight victory
Last week, the former WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight champion admitted that his dream of becoming undisputed heavyweight champion may have escaped him.
In an interview with TNT Sports, he claimed ‘it’s no longer in my timeframe’, and added he was left greiving upon realising that he may not achieve the feat following his back-to-back losses against Usyk.
Despite that, Joshua still has plans to work his way up the heavyweight division and a victory against Wallin, which could be his third on the bounce, could help open up a few doors for him in 2024, having also admitted that he would be interested in fighting Francis Ngannou.
Mail Sport reported last week that amid all the noise between him and Wilder and his war of words with Miller, Joshua seems focused and ready to fight – with Charlotte Daly claiming it feels like a shift has happened in his demeanour.
As Eddie Hearn put it, Joshua needs to win on Saturday to have a chance of facing Wilder next year. It’s taken the pair six long years to finally come close to meeting in the ring, and if Wallin upsets the odds to defeat the Brit, that will pose huge problem for Joshua’s plans next year.
‘I need to win, I have to win,’ he said in an interview with TNT Sports at an open workout on Wednesday.
‘If it’s destined, if it’s meant to be it will be. But in terms of how the fight will go…I think blood and bruises. It will be tough, but it will be good.’
On his opponent, he added: ‘[He can present] a lot of problems, but that’s high-level competition. I won’t go over everything I’ve been studying about him, but let’s just say he’s got a good mindset.
‘He’s spoken a lot, so you know where his head’s at, he’s game. That’s good enough to bring the best out of me.’
While AJ comes into the fight off the back of a sensational knockout against Robert Helenius, Wallin has an impressive resume and will be a tough opponent.
The 33-year-old has only been beaten by one opponent during his career, losing to Tyson Fury in 2019 via a unanimous decision. But the Swedish fighter inflicted some nasty damage on Fury during that fight, with the Gypsy King walking out of the ring with a huge gauge over his right eye.
On his upcoming fight against Joshua, Wallin seemed confident of his chances of beating the Brit, who he claimed was on the ‘decline’.
‘I would say he is still one of the best heavyweights out there and he’s made an amazing career for himself,’ Wallin said on Mail Sport’s boxing podcast, ‘The Hook’.
Joshua has spoken ahead of the fight claiming ‘I need to win, I have to win,’ as he looks to potentially set up a bout between him and Wilder next year
Wallin will be a tough opponent for the Brit, with the Swede having only lost once in his career to Tyson Fury
‘There has been a decline and I think he has reached his peak already. I think he is mentally fragile, he’s not sure of himself. He’s changed trainer and I think things can be very tough for him. People are very critical of him, he’s got a lot of pressure. So I think that weighs on him.’
As the headline fight on a blockbuster card, the bout will be an intriguing watch and Joshua will need to deliver a big performance to lay the foundations for his plans in 2024.
Should all four of the fighters from the United Kingdom win on Saturday, it will be a massive coup for British boxing.
But the nature of each of the fights and what’s on stake for each athlete proves just how much the sport is thriving in the country right now.