By Scoop Malinowski
Larry Merchant used to sometimes call boxing “the theater of the unexpected” and if the 92 year old Hall of Fame writer and broadcaster were still a major voice of the sport, his words would apply the “Day Of Reckoning” blockbuster in Saudi Arabia December 23.
The big surprise was Joseph Parker dominating and destroying Deontay Wilder over 12 rounds. Most ring observers assumed the fight was a set up and Parker would do his job (play soft) to advance Wilder to a $100m showdown vs Anthony Joshua. Parker did no such thing and walloped Wilder as if he was a novice.
Maybe that’s all Wilder ever was, with some help from Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel, who fed their pretender a series of PBC hired patsies and divers over the years before finally throwing him in with Tyson Fury, who they miscalculated to be totally shot. A sidenote, Wilder had claimed Parker ducked him in 2017 and 2018 when he was WBO champ but that was a flat out lie. Parker ended up losing the WBO title to Joshua in 2018. Wilder was fighting PBC patsies like Washington, Stiverne, Luis Ortiz.
It’s over now for Wilder, he has no value or leverage, other than to take one last payday for getting annihilated by Joshua, who performed one of the most impressive displays of his career vs Otto Wallin, who quit after the fifth round. The same Wallin who bloodied and bruised Tyson Fury a few years ago. Joshua seems driven by a fire to prove all his skeptics wrong. And that the two close decision defeats to Oleksandr Usyk were not the defining moments of his career.
WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol totally outboxed Lyndon Arthur to such a degree that it left you wondering if Bivol might actually be the pound for pound no. 1 fighter in the sport right now. Bivol vs Beterbiev 175 unification in 2024 will help to answer that question though Inoue, Crawford and Usyk also must be considered.
Daniel Dubois bounced back from the loss to Usyk by bombarding the massive 330 pounder Jarrell Miller with a tenth round knockout. Dubois is a legit top 8 heavyweight now and would easily beat Wilder too.
Agit Kabayel of Germany knocked off the touted Arslanbek Makhmudov. Kabayev finished off the bigger man in round four with body shots.
Jai Opetaia, the dominant cruiserweight champion used a left hook to ten count Zorro Ellis in the first round. Ellis landed on his back and his head hitting the lowest rope. The highly skilled smooth operator Opetaia, who has discussed a move up to heavyweight like his predecessor Usyk, was stripped of his IBF title the week before the fight for not fighting his mandatory challenger Mairis Breidis, even though Breidis is currently injured.
Croatian Filip Hrgovic dismissed overmatched former fringe contender Mark De Mori in the first round and remains the unbeaten, mandatory IBF challenger for Usyk.
Cuba’s Frank Sanchez started the show with an impressive performance vs. New Zealand’s Junior Fa. A sharp right by the muscular Sanchez dropped Fa at the end of round six. The technically sound Cuban finished the job in the seventh with damaging combinations. Sanchez is now 24-0 and eventually will get a title shot.