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Sports News of Sunday, 12 November 2023


Joshua, Wilder in talks for Saudi fight

Joshua and Wilder Joshua and Wilder

Former heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are in talks to fight on the same card in Saudi Arabia on December 23.

Wilder’s team are ‘hopeful’ a deal can be finalised as organisers aim to fill a gap on the card.

Tyson Fury’s clash against Oleksandr Usyk was set to headline, but Fury’s difficult encounter with Francis Ngannou last month derailed those plans. Organisers are however very confident a deal is close with Joshua and Wilder.

Queensberry promoter Frank Warren said this week that December 23 would be a ‘historic’ night for boxing.

Turki Alalshikh, of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, is leading discussions with Joshua and Wilder alongside Queensberry Promotions.

Joshua, 34, is promoted by Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn, while American Wilder has spent most of his career with Premier Boxing Champions and adviser Al Haymon, as well as being managed by Shelly Finkel.

Hopes are high that a deal will be done for Joshua and Wilder to fight separate opponents and could be announced shortly as December 23 is only six weeks away.

The deal could pave the way for Joshua and Wilder to fight each other in 2024, although the possibility of Joshua vs Wilder appearing on the same card as Usyk vs Fury is unlikely.

WBC champion Fury and IBF, WBO and WBA belt holder Usyk are expected to fight in a long-awaited undisputed heavyweight bout by February in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year Joshua and 38-year-old Wilder were in talks with Saudi Arabia-based Skills Challenge about fighting before discussions collapsed. Alalshikh’s outfit has now emerged as the power broker for boxing in the country.

Joshua and Wilder are former world champions but are on the comeback trail since losing their world titles to Usyk and Fury respectively.

Fury, 35, is unbeaten in 35 fights, while former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk is undefeated in 21 bouts.