Home Boxing News Anthony Joshua has each-way bet with Otto Wallin fight

Anthony Joshua has each-way bet with Otto Wallin fight

Anthony Joshua and Otto Wallin

The only thing that can stop Anthony Joshua 26-3 (23) from landing a big fight in his first bout in 2024 is a loss to Otto Wallin 26-1 (14).

The two-time WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion has set himself up nicely to parlay a win over Swedish southpaw Wallin, 33, into a big money bout against former WBC champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42) or a likely shot at the IBF title.

The 34-year-old Brit will face Wallin in an IBF world title eliminator on a huge card in Saudi Arabia that will feature a total of six heavyweight fights and two world title bouts on December 23. American puncher Wilder, 38, will square off against 31-year-old former WBO champion Joseph Parker 33-3-1 (23) of New Zealand on the same card.

Joshua and Wilder have long been linked to a fight and this year came very close to seeing each other in the ring before the money to host the fight dried up.

The mega-card in Saudi Arabia two days before Christmas is seen as a precursor to the two big men clashing in the first half of next year.

But Joshua may yet end up facing a different opponent instead. IBF number one contender Filip Hrgovic 16-0 (13) will box Mark De Mori 41-2-2 (36) on the same card in what amounts to little more than a stay-busy fight.

If he wins as expected, he will be next in line to challenge for the IBF title currently held by unified champion Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14).

Sounds simple so far, right? But not so fast. Ukrainian southpaw Usyk, 36, is set to clash with current WBC titleholder Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (23) in Saudi Arabia on February 17. The winner is legally obliged to take an immediate rematch if the loser requests it. This will see the IBF strip the winner of their title, scheduling a bout for the vacant belt between the two leading contenders.

That would be Hrgovic and Joshua if they both win their next bouts.

“I’m next in line for the heavyweight championship of the world,” Hrgovic said at the press conference to officially announce the event.

“I will fight the winner of Usyk versus Fury. Or if they vacate the title and want to do a rematch, I will fight the next best ranked fighter in the IBF rankings. That will be the winner of Anthony Joshua and Otto Wallin.”

Hearn confirmed as much in an interview with Boxing Social.

“If the belts become available early next year, then it would be number one against number two,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said. “If AJ beats Wallin, he puts himself in line to fight Hrgovic for the vacant title.”

Hearn added that they are still very much interested in the Wilder fight, saying: “It’s still an absolute priority for us.”

Whichever way Joshua turns, he has options.