By Elliot Worsell
IF anything can finally get Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in a ring together at the same time, it will probably be Middle East money and, specifically, the considerable influence of General Entertainment Authority’s Turki Alalshikh, whose plan it is to host another major boxing event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 23.
Indeed, having dragged their heels through their respective prime years, to see Joshua and Wilder at last get together next year, with Joshua aged 33 and Wilder 38, will not only come at a considerable cost but is, in reality, the best we can now hope for.
It should have happened sooner, of that there is no doubt, but even for it to happen in 2024, with both still dangerous and relatively ambitious, would be a great boon for the heavyweight division, the reputation of which took a sizeable knock when Tyson Fury decided to kill more time in his career by fighting former UFC star Francis Ngannou in October.
First, to move us a step closer to Joshua vs. Wilder, there are plans to have the two heavyweights appear in separate bouts on the proposed December 23 event in Riyadh. That, according to Dan Rafael, is the hope of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority and it sounds, too, as though deals for this to happen are both on the table and in the process of being “finished”.
If true, it would certainly bring us closer to seeing Joshua and Wilder share a ring than we have been for quite a while now. It would also add further credence to the theory that only Middle East money can guarantee the fights we need to see at heavyweight, and have been longing to see at heavyweight, actually take place.