Day of Reckoning: Joshua vs. Wallin Preview and Tips

There is a fantastic festive fight card from Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, headlined by Anthony Joshua’s showdown with Otto Wallin.

Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) has successfully recovered from a pair of defeats against Oleksandr Usyk to beat Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius and now ‘AJ’ will be looking to line up a world title challenge next year.

Meanwhile, Wallin (26-1, 14 KOs, 1 no-contest) has just one defeat on a 28-fight form card and that came against Tyson Fury in 2019.

It promises to be a fantastic contest on a night that also features Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Dmitrii Bivol, Jai Opetaia, Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic.

Tip 1 – Otto Wallin to beat Anthony Joshua @ 3/1

Joshua has been beaten three times in a 29-fight career and, although the Watford heavyweight has been relieved of his WBA, IBF and WBO world titles, he is still 1/4 to get the better of Wallin on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old cut a formidable opponent when blowing away outclassed rivals in the early part of his career, but it’s hard to remember the last time the British heavyweight impressed.

Joshua stepped up to beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 - but that was the Ukrainian legend's final fight and even then, he came pretty close to winning. That victory over Klitschko came six years ago and there has been little since to suggest that Joshua should be a 1/4 shot on Saturday night.

He has twice been beaten by Usyk, the Olympic gold medallist was stopped and dropped by Andy Ruiz in 2019, and although the Watford man swiftly avenged that defeat to Ruiz, that was also a far from impressive performance.

Most recently ‘AJ’ has bounced back from the defeats against Usyk to beat Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius – but that duo are low-level fighters - and the more you look, the more holes you can find in the Joshua card.

The highlight of the last four years of Joshua’s career is arguably his stoppage victory over a 39-year-old Kubrat Pulev - and a clash against Wallin could represent a far stiffer challenge.

Aside from victories and defeats, there are more concerns with what we have seen in the ring from Joshua in recent times.

The two-time world champion is at his best when he uses his power, strength and athleticism to dominate and hurt his opponents, as he did in the early part of his career. Of course, it’s going to be more difficult to implement that approach as the opposition improves, but the tactics that the British fighter has deployed in recent bouts have been somewhat bizarre.

In what in retrospect seems a totally misguided approach, the Hertfordshire heavyweight attempted to outbox one of the most technically gifted performers in the sport when tackling Usyk for the first time, and continues to chop and change his training camps, coaches and strategy on an almost fight-by-fight basis.

Perhaps it’s the change of tactics, or maybe a lack of confidence after the Ruiz defeat, but there is the simple possibility that the Watford fighter’s physical prowess has faded now at the age of 34.

Whatever the cause, Joshua has not been the same aggressive and destructive heavyweight since that stoppage loss to Ruiz in 2019 – and, if any fighter doesn’t box to their strengths, they are always likely to be vulnerable.

Wallin has just one defeat – as well as a no-contest – on his 28-fight card and that came against Fury in 2019.

The 33-year-old’s form is pretty thin - but there is a good win over Dominic Breazeale on his record and he was good enough to go the distance with the Gypsy King, ensuring the former world champion left the ring with a few dozen stitches into the bargain.

Nicknamed ‘All-in’, the Swedish southpaw arrives in Saudi following an excellent victory over Murat Gassiev and that performance indicates that the 33-year-old could cause Joshua more problems than the prices suggest.

Tip 2 – Fight to go the Distance @ 4/6

Three of Wallin’s last seven fights have gone the distance, including the showdown with Fury in September 2019.

The victories over Breazeale and Gassiev also went all 12 rounds and those performances suggest he has what it takes to take Joshua the distance at the Kingdom Arena.

Joshua has also had plenty of lengthy fights in recent years, with the Briton taken 12 rounds in four of his last six fights.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist also needed a unanimous decision to beat Joseph Parker, who is also in action on Saturday, when he faced the New Zealander in March 2018.

Check out the preview of the other fights on the card and get betting tips below:

Take Time to Think | | 18+

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