Though both former heavyweight champions, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, will enter the ring as pretty big favourites in their upcoming respective fights – AJ against Otto Wallin, Wilder against Joseph Parker – it might be fair to say that both men are facing live underdogs. With Wilder, we just don’t know how much that third, brutal fight with Tyson Fury took out of him, while the 38 year old will have been out of the ring for 14 months by the time he fights Parker, who by contrast has boxed three times this year already.
Ring rust could play a part in the Wilder-Parker fight, even though most fans do seem to think Wilder’s crunching power will land at some point, with Wilder’s ‘equaliser’ of a right hand getting the job done.
As for Joshua-Wallin, it could be argued that Joshua has the potentially tougher fight, with tall, never-stopped southpaw Wallin in with a good shot at pulling off the win. One man who thinks 34 year old AJ could suffer an upset loss against Wallin is Carl Froch. Froch, on his always enjoyable ‘Froch on Fighting’ podcast, had the following to say about Joshua-Wallin.
“I do think Otto Wallin has got a good chance against Joshua,” Froch said. “AJ is quite negative and is a bit nervous. If Otto Wallin believes in himself and he sticks it on Anthony Joshua, it could be game over for AJ. If he doesn’t rise to the occasion and meet Wallin with aggression, then this could go wrong. I think Wallin does have a chance…..I make AJ a 65/35 favourite, but Wallin has definitely got a chance, so don’t rule anything out, this could be a massive upset.”
Wallin, 26-1(14) and beaten only by Tyson Fury, this via somewhat close decision in a fight that saw Wallin badly cut Fury around the eye, is certainly talking a good game going into the AJ fight. Wallin was smiling at Joshua at yesterday’s presser, the younger man by two years stating how he believes Joshua is on the decline now, his peak having come and gone.
And it is interesting what Froch says about AJ being “negative” and “nervous.” This is the way Joshua looked in his two comeback fights after the back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, with Joshua being conservative with his punches against Jermaine Franklin, and against Robert Helenius, at least until he finally got to work in round seven. Might Wallin be able to outbox and outfight Joshua is he shows up in a similar frame of mind on December 23? Ask yourself, did Joshua look good, or even above average in the Franklin and Helenius fights?
Otto Wallin might just be in the right place at the right time with this fight. As Froch says, Joshua, 26-3(23) has to rise to the occasion. But after that KO loss to Andy Ruiz, and after those two humbling losses to Usyk, is AJ still capable of rising up to the big-fight occasion?