Anthony Joshua (27-3, 24 KOs) proved his doubters wrong with a solid victory, beating Otto Wallin (26-2, 14 KOs) by a fifth round retirement on Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The victory for Joshua was bittersweet because he’s no longer going to be facing Deontay Wilder in March as previously planned due to the Bronze Bomber’s loss to Joseph Parker tonight. Instead, Joshua is looking at potentially fighting Filip Hrgovic next, which won’t be for the same kind of money. Hrgovic isn’t popular.
Going into the fight, the former 34-year-old two-time heavyweight champion Joshua was viewed as a shell-shocked fighter ready for the scrap heap, but tonight, he showed that he’s at least good enough to defeat fringe contender Wallin.
Joshua sharp from the outset
Using his powerful right hand, Joshua busted Wallin’s nose early, cut him under his right eye, and, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, injured his eye socket.
Wallin was in bad enough shape for his corner to hold him back from coming out for the sixth round, which was a sensible thing to do given the punishment he’d taken in the fifth round.
Joshua had staggered Wallin in the fifth with a big right hand, causing him to stumble into the ropes. Near the end of the round, Joshua again hurt Wallin with a monstrous right hand.
Whether the victory was enough to accurately say whether Joshua is at the top of the heavyweight division is unknown.
The level of opponent AJ faced tonight was too marginal to know if he’s still one of the top fighters. For anyone to say that Joshua is back on top, he’d need to prove himself against these heavyweights:
We know that Joshua can beat Wallin, but that guy isn’t in the stratosphere among the best. He’s just someone that was picked out to make AJ look good.
Hearn elated over Joshua’s victory
“It’s amazing. Ben [Davison] and the team said, ‘He’s back, he’s punching harder than ever.’ We know his skills have improved, and they said to me, ‘Inside four or five rounds,'” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing King Media, discussing Anthony Joshua’s win over Otto Wallin on Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“He [Joshua] picked him apart, he beat him up, he busted his nose, he busted his eye socket, he busted him to the ribs. That was a brilliant performance. I’m so happy for him.
“No, he was going to get badly hurt,” said Hearn when asked if he was surprised that Wallin didn’t come out of his corner after the fifth. “You could see that he was getting busted up to the body. His nose was gone, and his eye socket was broken. What more would you want a man to take?
“He could feel it. You could see the look on his face as if to say, ‘Holy s***,’ and it was a good decision [for Wallin not to come out for the sixth round].
Joshua vs. Wilder: A Missed Opportunity
“That’s correct, it was signed,” said Hearn about the Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight was signed earlier tonight for March 9th, but it won’t be happening now that Joseph Parker has beaten the ‘Bronze Bomber.
“That’s life. I’m pleased for Joseph Parker. I’m gutted that we don’t get to fight Wilder. I said all along, ‘I don’t see that as a difficult fight.’ I know he’s [Deontay] dangerous and heavy-handed, but I don’t rate him.
“I said this to Joseph and [trainer] Andy Lee earlier this week. Tonight belongs to AJ but to Joseph as well. Great night of boxing,’ said Hearn.