Joshua vs Wallin odds and tips: Analysis and picks for Saudi superfight

Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin tops one of the biggest bills in boxing history on Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – here we assess the odds and preview the big fight from a betting perspective and give you our tips and picks.

On December 23 in Saudi Arabia, boxing fans are set to witness an event like no other. The old blood business was built on hyperbole and exaggeration. However, it is not a stretch to say that the ‘Day of Reckoning’ may well be the most impressive concentration of fistic star power ever brought together on a single card (check out the incredible heavyweight bouts scheduled).

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In the co-main feature, Anthony Joshua faces Otto Wallin in a fascinating fight. Wallin has only lost once in 27 contests, and in that defeat gave AJ’s big domestic rival Tyson Fury hell when they met in 2019.

Fury won on points, but needed 47 stitches to repair a horrendous cut over his right eye and afterwards the ‘Gypsy King’ certainly knew he has been in a fight. The 26-1 (14) Wallin has not lost since, and has been active so far this year – boxing twice already.

Joshua vs Wallin odds

Joshua starts as a warm betting favourite – he is a top priced 2/7 to prevail – but this won’t be easy by any stretch and there are certainly better 2/7 shots out there to be lumping on before Christmas.

That is because AJ is walking a heavyweight high wire after a tough couple of years, and he knows defeat against Wallin could prove disastrous. There are no belts on the line but a mega-money fight with Deontay Wilder has been confirmed for March 9, provided the Londoner and the Alabaman can come through their respective tests (Wilder faces Joseph Parker on the same bill).

Joshua is 26-3 (23) but in truth has not looked himself since losing his ‘0’in a sensational upset to Andy Ruiz Jr in the summer of 2019 in New York. He won his belts back against Ruiz that same year, but not long after that suffered back-to-back defeats to the mercurial Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022.

He was once a seek-and-destroy fighter at his best, happy to back his power against anyone he faced. However, he now knows he can be hurt (see Ruiz) and that he can be outboxed (see Usyk), and has lost his cloak of invincibility.

Inner battles are common in boxing, an industry in which rejection is currency and the slings and arrows of fame and fortune are constantly interchanging for anyone brave enough to bet their talent – and pride – on its bright lights.

Who knows where AJ is right now but the feeling is this will not be straightforward and there are some red flags going in.

Big-fight analysis

Joshua is not a settled fighter and has hired yet another new trainer for this in Ben Davison. He is boxing another southpaw at relatively short notice. Will Davison have enough time to refine his style? There is also the worry that AJ could be caught between two styles, for when Davison was with Fury he worked a lot on Tyson’s elusiveness rather than his power.

For his last two fights AJ had been coached by Derrick James. Indeed Davison serves as the fourth trainer Joshua has gone through in a matter of years after leaving long-term mentor Robert McCracken for Robert Garcia, only to then split from Garcia too.

Joshua is an Olympic gold medallist and a two-time heavyweight champion of the world. He knows how to fight and has been immersed in the pro game for just over a decade. Maybe he feels there is a need to add some variety? In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

It is just as likely however that he has not been happy with his performances in recent years and is focusing on his coaching team rather than admitting to himself that he is a fighter on the slide.

Nobody but the man himself knows where he’s at mentally these days and Wallin alluded to this when speaking to The Daily Mail last week:

“I think he is mentally fragile, he’s not sure of himself. He’s changed trainer, and I think things can be very tough for him. People are very critical of him, he’s got a lot of pressure. So, I think that weighs on him.”

In recent fights, Joshua’s state of mind in the ring perpetually seems to veer from mild crisis to fiery determination. It is box office to watch, but at the same time cannot be easy for Eddie Hearn or anyone else involved in the Joshua business to witness.

AJ remains a titanic screen presence in and out of the ring, and will be wildly popular in Saudi. He has earned huge sums from boxing, but his legacy at this point is complicated.

Beyond the celebrity and media soundbites, Joshua seems like a nice guy. This was evidenced during his recent TV sit down with Louis Theroux. Media trained; he was all smiles for the most part but did allude to the huge pressure he faces when he said at one point: “It’s too much; gone are the days when it was for the fun”.

Fear is a funny thing. Joshua showed in his superhuman effort against Wladimir Klitschko that he can walk through the fire, and is not afraid to fight at the highest level. All fighters feel fear, and the ones who claim they do not are liars.

As a deep thinker however, Joshua’s current fears might actually be around losing again and in doing so losing his place at the heavyweight top table and his identity as one of the best boxers on the planet.

Cus D’Amato, the mentor and spiritual teacher whose greatest work was Mike Tyson, had his own much-quoted theory about fear. Control it and use it, he theorised, and it will become a fierce weapon with which to beat your opponent. Yet allow it to get out of control and it will engulf and ultimately destroy you like a forest fire.

Is the pressure becoming too much for AJ? We will know more after Saturday evening.  

They will throw down at the Kingdom Arena, a venue built in 60 days and one which accommodates more than 40,000 people.

Verdict and tips

So how will the styles match up? The pair have a history from the amateurs remember. Their two clashes in the amateur code came in 2010 and 2011, with AJ coming out on top in both bouts on points.

In terms of the here and now, last time we checked AJ was still a box-puncher. Whatever is happening between the ears, we know he has mastered the basic boxing fundamentals of a good strong, solid jab to help set up his power shots. He puts his combinations together well and his right uppercut is an underrated weapon and a shot Wallin will have to look out for.

The Swede has decent size and is a tricky southpaw. He has 14 stoppage wins and in truth does not have truly devastating power in his left hand.

Joshua is probably a better boxer and superior in terms of power and footwork. That said, Wallin has enough skill to make this interesting and Joshua could get discouraged if things are not going his way early on.

Although the one-punch finish stole the headlines against Robert Helenius, it is worth remembering that Joshua looked short on ideas for the first six rounds against the Finn, a fighter way past his best who took the fight on just a couple of days’ notice after Dillian Whyte’s failed drug test.

The finish was conclusive, but at various points AJ looked a bit unsure of himself against an opponent who was not offering much in terms of an attacking threat. 

Wallin is much better than Helenius, and will know a win here and he is suddenly in the mix for a world title shot himself and the financial rewards that would bring should it happen in the Middle East. At 33, he knows this is his moment and he should leave it all in the ring.

There is a danger some punters will look at the betting line and assume Wallin is merely being served as fodder before the world inevitably gets the Joshua-Wilder battle it has been yearning for.

That would be a dangerous assumption to make. Wallin is capable and it would be a big surprise if Joshua was able to get rid of him early. More likely, both men will look to use their respective jabs to try to gain a foothold in the early going.

Post-Ruiz, Joshua is so much more cautious and unwilling to commit, and we are not sure Davison is the trainer to revert him to a fighter who used to steamroller his opponents. 

Wallin has good fundamentals, is experienced, mobile and can ride punches well as he showed against Fury. Moreover, while this is heavyweight boxing and anything can happen, what is likely to happen is that Joshua punches his way to a safety-first decision win on the cards.

Tip: Joshua to win via decision / technical decision at 6/5 (bet365/Coral)