Former WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder had his long-awaited return to the sport finally confirmed in London this week, featuring as part of the latest promotion set to be held in Saudi Arabia on December 23rd.
Wilder [43-2-1, 42 KOs] will face former WBO world heavyweight champion Joseph Parker [33-3,23KOs], with the contest set to act as the chief support to former unified heavyweight world champion and rival Anthony Joshua’s [26-3, 23KOs] bout with long-time contender Otto Wallin [26-1, 14KOs].
Wilder has not appeared in competitive action following his first-round knockout victory over Robert Helenius in October of 2022, his first victory following back-to-back knockout defeats to Tyson Fury in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Wilder’s ring return had also been delayed with protracted and failing negotiations with Anthony Joshua, with talks between the pair and previous Saudi promotional entity, Skill Challenge Entertainment, ultimately failing to come up with proof of funding for the contest alongside a change of boxing management structure with how boxing will be handled in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment and head of the ongoing Riyadh Season, brought the maiden boxing event to Saudi Arabia with Tyson Fury’s encounter with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, which took place last month.
The second event will see Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder feature on the same card, working towards a proposed encounter to see the heavyweight champions collide in 2024.
Wilder appeared in a jubilant mood to finally be making a long-awaited ring return and face Paker. Still, when speaking to October Red Media, revealed his future goals within the sport, insisting that he wants to return to being a world champion and pursue being a unified world champion for the first time in his career.
“These last few years have been nothing short of trying to be patient. I’m on a goal. My goal is to unify the [titles].”
“I have everything I want in life. I even have a damn statue. Most of my accomplishments have been set in stone, but to add undisputed heavyweight champion to that is like the icing on the cake. So why can you have your ice cream and eat your cake as well? So that’s my motivation for everything. I will get to that point.”