Former world champions Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker face off for the first time in Saudi Arabia on December 23. The heavyweight clash airs on DAZN PPV.
A 2007 Golden Gloves gold medalist, Wilder turned pro in 2008. “The Bronze Bomber” was WBC heavyweight champion from 2015-2020, a run that ended when Tyson Fury beat him via TKO. Wilder has since gone 1-1, his last fight a knockout win against Robert Helenius in October 2022. Despite not fighting in over a year, Wilder believes Parker will be his 43rd win via the power punch.
“You already know: knockout,” Wilder predicted to ESNews via Boxing Scene. “In my head, I’m looking at three or four [rounds]. In my head, I see. But you never know. In my head, that’s how I got it going. But I’m not going to force anything. I’m just gonna do what I do best. And that fight is going to be a knockout.”
A three-time gold medalist, Parker made his pro debut in 2012. Parker won the WBO heavyweight title in 2016 against Andy Ruiz Jr. but lost the belt against Anthony Joshua in 2018. He went on a six-fight win streak soon after, lost against Joe Joyce in 2022, and has won three in a row since. Going 3-0 in 2023, Parker looks to avoid Wilder’s knockout power and return to the top of title contention.
“We have to be switched on for the whole time we’re in the ring fighting Deontay Wilder. I know everyone is worried about the right hand, the equalizer, but as long as I focus on my plan and executing it I don’t have to worry about what he brings,” Parker told Queensberry Promotions via Boxing Social.
Look how tough the trilogy with Tyson Fury was for Deontay Wilder and at the age of 38, we know 100 per cent that those three fights for Wilder have taken a lot out of him,” Barry said.
“Wilder was down six times in those three fights, Fury was down four times. That damages both fighters. You only have to look back to other trilogies: when [Evander] Holyfield fought [Riddick] Bowe, both those guys were never, ever the same again.
“You go back to the [Muhammad] Ali – [Joe] Frazier trilogy, those guys, after the wars they had with each other, they were never the same. It takes a piece of your soul, and when we talk about Tyson Fury, well, he didn’t look that flash in his last fight with [Francis] Ngannou.”
Parker and Wilder have been linked to one another since 2017, when there were discussions of them meeting for a title unification bout – Parker held the WBO strap and Wilder the WBC. Parker ultimately went on to fight Anthony Joshua in early 2018 and lost a unanimous decision in his first career defeat.
With the bout finally coming to fruition, both fighters have been working with former opponents of their foes; Parker with Fury and Wilder with Junior Fa, who fights highly ranked Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez on the same card. Wilder’s coach Malik Scott is also a former sparring partner of Parker’s.
While he has been working with Fury – the only man to beat Wilder – in preparation, Parker knew he could not employ the same bullying tactics Fury used to wear Wilder down, and the reach advantage will be with the heavy-handed American.
However, what Parker did take away from working with Fury was insights into what will work for him against Wilder and how he can show the best of himself against the former WBC champion.
“The game plan going into this fight is going to be different from what he did going into his fight, but it’s always good to move around with Tyson. He’s the champion of the world, so he gave me the best work; the work that I needed to prepare for Deontay, sparring-wise. He’s always been there, which I’m very grateful for,” Parker said.