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Anthony Joshua and Wilder to fight separate opponents in Dec. 23 Saudi mega-show

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 Boxing - Queensberry & Riyadh Season Press Conference - OVO Arena, London, Britain - November 15, 2023 Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua with Turki Alalshikh during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra Acquire Licensing Rights  

Former world heavyweight champions Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua will fight separate opponents on the same bill at a mega-show in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23, promoters said on Wednesday.

Britain’s Joshua, the former WBA, IBF and WBO champion, will take on Sweden’s Otto Wallin while American Wilder, the former WBC champion, faces New Zealand’s Joseph Parker at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena.

Parker is also a former WBO champion.

Joshua and Wilder could fight each other next year if both win in Riyadh.

The Dec. 23 show will also feature two world title clashes, with WBA light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol scheduled to fight Britain’s Lyndon Arthur while Australian WBC cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia takes on Britain’s Ellis Zorro.

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British heavyweight Daniel Dubois, who lost to WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in Poland in August, will be back in the ring to fight undefeated American Jarrell Miller.

Ukrainian Usyk had been due to fight WBC champion Tyson Fury for the undisputed crown in Riyadh on Dec. 23 but that has been put back to give the Briton more time after a bruising non-title fight with Francis Ngannou.

A date for that fight is due to be announced on Thursday, with February looking likely.

Joshua told reporters last month that a fight between him and Wilder could be staged on the undercard of the Usyk v Fury clash.

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn said the Riyadh show, led by Queensberry Promotions’ Frank Warren, had come together in record time thanks to the Saudi authorities.

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“This is the fastest I’ve ever seen a fight card come together,” Hearn told a London news conference.

“We’re talking about conversations that started 10 days ago, max, and that wasn’t even necessarily AJ (Joshua) at the time. That was Dmitry Bivol, that was Jai Opetaia and then it went into AJ.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I think the speed of it actually benefited everybody because no-one really had time to fall out.”

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Boxing

Anthony Joshua’s opponent, Helenius gets two-year ban

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 Anthony Joshua v Robert Helenius - O2 Arena, London, Britain - August 12, 2023 Robert Helenius in action during his fight against Antonhy Joshua Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

Finland’s Robert Helenius has been banned for two years due to Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) for the presence and use of a prohibited substance for his bout against Britain’s Anthony Joshua in August 2023, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) said on Friday.

Former heavyweight world champion Joshua beat stand-in Helenius with a seventh round single-punch knockout at the London O2 Arena.

But Helenius’s sample from a voluntary drug test the day before the bout tested positive for clomifene, which the Finnish boxer said may have originated from consuming eggs and chicken.

Helenius, now 40, was provisionally suspended and UKAD said he was unable to provide proof that “the eggs and chicken meat he had consumed in advance of the bout originated from hens that had been administered clomifene”.

“Mr Helenius was therefore unable to identify the source of clomifene in his sample and therefore unable to reduce the applicable period of ineligibility of two years,” UKAD added.

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However, UKAD said that since Helenius was provisionally suspended on Sept. 18, 2023, he has already served 10 months of his ban which will expire on Sept. 17, 2025.

-Reuters

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Dubois promises to put an end to Anthony Joshua era

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It promises a tough time for Anthony Joshua if the words of Daniel Dubois are anything to go by, as both will clash in September.

“I’m aiming to be the best. AJ (Joshua) has been the King for a long time but on the night I need to be the ‘King slayer’. That’s the goal, the mission I have,” Dubois said at the news conference on Wednesday.

“I’m ready to let my fists do the talking. I’m 100% ready to go and to train like a beast.”

Dubois has a 21-2 record with 20 knockouts while 34-year-old Joshua’s record is 28-3, including 25 knockouts.

Usyk beat two-times heavyweight champion Joshua twice – first in 2021 to seize the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts and again in 2022 when he defended the belts – but the Briton has won his last four fights.

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“I went out to watch his last fight… Dubois has been on my mind for a while and he will be for the next 12 weeks,” Joshua said.

“Whoever was going to be there, I was ready to fight in September. It just happened to be him.”

When questioned about the age difference, Joshua said: “It don’t matter, we’re in peak condition. Age is just a number.”

Usyk had knocked out Dubois in nine rounds last year in a bout overshadowed by a low blow controversy when the Ukrainian went down gasping for breath after he was hit on the band of his shorts.

“Anthony and Daniel, I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on September 21,” Usyk said on X, opens new tab when he vacated the belt.

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The winner of the bout between Joshua and Dubois could then get a crack at the undisputed champion after Usyk and Fury have their rematch.

The undercard will have five bouts, including two for the IBF super-featherweight title and the WBO interim light-heavyweight title.

“This is probably the most stacked card in British boxing history, certainly in my lifetime, headlined by Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua,” Queensberry promoter Frank Warren said.

“Where better to do it at the national stadium, Wembley?”

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Usyk vacates IBF heavyweight title

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Oleksandr Usyk has vacated the International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight belt, the Ukrainian said on Tuesday, five weeks after becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion.

The announcement comes after Usyk’s mandatory IBF title defence against challenger Croatian Filip Hrgovic was left pending and Daniel Dubois became the new interim IBF heavyweight champion by beating Hrgovic earlier this month.

The 37-year-old Usyk requested not to be stripped of his IBF belt to contest the undisputed champion title when he takes on Fury in their December rematch, where only the WBC, WBO and WBA titles will now be on the line.

The heavyweight IBF title, which Usyk held since 2021, will be up for grabs when Anthony Joshua takes on Dubois in September at Wembley Stadium.

“Anthony and Daniel, I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on 21 September,” Usyk said in a video message on X.

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Last month Usyk became the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000 as he claimed the WBC title by beating Tyson Fury by a split decision in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Usyk said he may return to the cruiserweight division following his rematch with Fury.

-Reuters

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