Joseph Parker stuns Deontay Wilder in unanimous decision in Saudi Arabia

Joseph Parker stunned Deontay Wilder in a unanimous decision on Saturday in the first bout of a heavyweight doubleheader at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The 31-year-old Parker, a big underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook, looked like the better fighter throughout, while the 38-year-old Wilder looked his age in this matchup of former heavyweight champions.

Parker (34-3-0) dominated from the start, landing powerful punches with his right hand while keeping Wilder on his heels with a smart and methodical approach.

“Dangerous fight, tough fight, we trained very hard for this,” Parker said. “We had great momentum coming into this fight. The strategy was to stay calm, stay relaxed, stay focused … every minute of every round. This is a great finish to the year.”

There was only one round in which Wilder got the better of Parker.

“My timing was off a little bit,” Wilder said. “He did a great job of avoiding a lot of my punches. I did feel like I had the upper hand, but things happen. We move on to the next step.”

The doubleheader was expected to set up a March bout between Wilder and the winner of the night’s final fight between Anthony Joshua and Otto Wallin.

Now it appears Parker is in a position to step up in March, with the winner of that fight hoping to get a shot at the undisputed championship, which will be decided Feb. 17 when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk meet in Saudi Arabia. The heavyweight division hasn’t been unified this century.

Wilder was the WBC champion from 2015-20 before Fury ended his reign in February 2020. Wilder has largely been inactive since, fighting only twice before Saturday. Whether he was in good enough shape to beat Parker, who wore the WBO belt from 2016-18, was a major question entering their bout.

Bivol tops Arthur in unanimous decision

Earlier, Dmitrii Bivol defeated Lyndon Arthur in a unanimous decision that saw all three judges score it a 12-round sweep for the IBO light heavyweight and WBA super light heavyweight belts.

The early card also included five knockouts.

Daniel Dubois (20-2-0) registered a 10th-round technical knockout of Jarrell Miller (26-1-1) with 8 seconds left in the final round.

Agit Kabayel (24-0-0) scored a fourth-round TKO of Arslanbek Makhmudov (18-1-0) in a scheduled 10-round heavyweight bout.

Jai Opetaia scored a first-round knockout of Ellis Zorro in a cruiserweight fight. After changing levels throughout the round, Opetaia (24-0-0) unleashed a vicious left hook that dropped Zorro (17-1-0).

Filip Hrgovic (17-0-0) stopped Mark De Mori (41-3-2) with a first-round TKO.

Frank Sanchez (24-0-0) opened the night with a seventh-round knockout of Junior Fa (20-3-0).

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