|Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:
On Anthony Joshua..
“Firstly it’s three great Heavyweight fights. I can’t wait for Big Baby against, definitely my new favourite Heavyweight after that war-cry, in Daniel Dubois. It’s a great fight and a real 50-50 fight. This man to my right beyond ‘AJ’, Joseph Parker, he means business – he’s got a tremendous team, great people, Andy Lee one of the best trainers in the sport. That’s a very tough fight for Deontay Wilder who is one of the most exciting Heavyweights on the planet.
“For ‘AJ’ the run has been incredible. The journey has been incredible. From winning Olympic Gold, from winning the World Heavyweight Championship in his 16th fight. The run that he’s been on. Dominic Breazeale, Eric Molina, Wladimir Klitchscko, Carlos Takam, unifying against Joseph Parker in a great fight as well, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz, Andy Ruiz, Kubrat Pulev, Oleksandr Usyk, Oleksandr Usyk, Robert Helenius and now Otto Wallin.
“This is his third fight 2023. It’s the first time he’s been able to be active without the politics of a belt and it’s a real test. Otto Wallin, many people thought he was unlucky not to force the stoppage against Tyson Fury. He’s coming off a great win against Murat Gasiev. I love his confidence. He truly believe he will win the fight on Saturday. We’ve got other plans.
“I see a very motivated Anthony Joshua. I see a guy that that in my opinion, has really been responsible for the growth of the Heavyweight division, going back to filling stadiums coming off the World Championship victory after winning Olympic Gold. A guy that has plenty more left to give to the Heavyweight division, wants to become a three-time Heavyweight Champion, but has a real tough task ahead of him on Saturday night. A great link up with Ben Davison, I think you’re going to see a stunning performance from Anthony on Saturday.”
“Thanks Dev. And just to echo what Frank said really, the excitement building into this card. It was four years ago we first came to Riyadh and the change that we’ve seen here has been incredible. I’m not sure, like Frank said, we’ve ever seen a card put together like this before and particularly the speed in which it was delivered. So many great fights, of course the Heavyweight fights but so many great opportunities for other fighters in different weight classes.
“When you talk about Dmitry Bivol, you talk about a pound-for-pound great fighter. The victory over Canelo Alvarez that we promoted in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena which was incredible. It was a masterclass, cemented his position on the pound-for-pound list. I’m delighted that Lyndon Arthur gets the opportunity. A great lad, British fighter, great team with Pat Barrett and everybody in Manchester. You know that he’s going to come to win on Saturday but he has a very tough task ahead him against, I believe, the number one Light-Heavyweight in the world.
Have you struggled to find willing opponents for Bivol?
“We’ve offered the fight to a number of British fighters – Joshua Buatsi, Dan Azeez and finally we’ve found one to step up in Lyndon Arthur. He’s got a great team with Nisse and Kalle at Wasserman Boxing as well. It’s great to have them involved and so many other promoters. You’ve got to chase greatness. Lyndon Arthur has an opportunity to feature on the pound-for-pound list himself if he can dethrone Dmitry Bivol. Tough ask but he’s a quality fighter. This man to my right has been out of the ring for over a year but he’s ready to show everybody that he’s the top dog on Saturday night.”
“Thanks to everyone for turning up today. Much appreciated. I’m looking to do a good job. What more can I say? I will do a good job.
“I’m here to fight, I’m not here to party and get caught up in the glitz and glamour. I want to fight. I want to perform well. I put that pressure on myself. Of course I’m tense because I want to perform. I want to win. I’ve got that urge to win. I want to hurt my opponent as well.
“Pure focus on Saturday. That’s where my heart and soul, every cell in my body is fully focused towards Otto Wallin and doing what I know I can do.
“Third fight in Saudi Arabia. Big vision in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcome us all here. Much appreciated. I know how much they put in to putting these shows on. I’ve never seen anything like this in my whole life. The last man standing will be on this table in the future for sure. The vision is big for sure.”
“Of course I’m nervous, but I just want to say thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Frank Warren for making this happen. Of course I’m nervous, it’s a big fight, a big opportunity, but i’m ready for it. I’ve worked very hard to be here and now it’s time to enjoy the moment and win the fight and move on. People talking about upsets, I’m going to win the fight and you shouldn’t call it an upset. It’s not really an upset, it’s just natural. This is my time so i’m ready for it. I’m just happy to be here.
“I’m just trying to be myself. People say I talk a lot now but I get asked questions and I just answer them how I feel. I’m not trying to make anything up, it’s just the truth. If people like it then fine, if they don’t then that’s okay too.
“I’m a tricky southpaw, I’m a good fighter. It’s kind of a short notice to this fight. Also, he’s got a new trainer, so I think that can be tricky. He’s used to be a happy guy but from what I see now he seems very stiff and tense. Maybe he’s fed up of all of this stuff.”
“Hello everyone. First of all I want to say thank you to Saudi for making this huge event and for inviting me to be part of this event. Thank you to my team, to my promoters Eddie Hearn and Andrey Ryabinskiy World of Boxing. Thank you everyone who supports me. What about Saudi? Of course I like to be here because I know Saudi makes great events and on the Tyson vs. Ngannou event I was excited to see how they made the show. Of course I wanted to one day be part of this. I’m here now. Saudi is doing a very good job for the whole boxing society I think because fans want to see great fights and they will see a couple of great fights one day.”
Why is Lyndon Arthur the right fight for you right now?
“My life is scheduled until the fight. I am living until December 24th. Many people ask me what about undisputed fight? Of course I’m talking about it but I’m really focused on Lyndon Arthur. I’m treating him seriously because he is my opponent. He wants to beat me but I have to beat him. He has good jab, he’s a good fighter, he’s had a couple of fights this year. He’s a good opponent today for me.”
Do you think we can see a knockout on Saturday night?
“Everything is possible but I’m not usually focused on a knockout because it distracts me from my plan. Of course if I see the moment I will use this moment. I’m not a fighter who only thinks about one punch. I like to enjoy the process. I like to follow my tactics.”
Vadim Kornilov, World of Boxing Promotions:
“It’s a pleasure to be here. It’s a great opportunity for us. It’s been an honour working everybody involved – there’s a lot of promoters; Queensberry, Matchroom, his Excellency. So far it has been a great ride. We’re looking forward to the beginning of a big chapter for us. This fight is a stepping stone for us for a possible undisputed fight to come next year. Right now obviously we are focused on Lyndon Arthur and we appreciate that he took this fight. We appreciate that he took the challenge because as Eddie said, there has probably been four or five opponents that we were trying to get in the ring with Dmitry and many of them were not enticed into the fight. We appreciate this opportunity and we look forward to a great event.”
You’re really taking this all in this week aren’t you?
“I’m enjoying it and I’m looking forward to Saturday. I’m taking it all in and I kind of have changed my life a little bit with boxing and how far I’ve took it. Here I am.
Are you ready for this task?
“Yeah I wouldn’t be here obviously.”
What is it you can do to upset Dmitry Bivol on Saturday night?
“We’ll see on Saturday.”
Do you feel like the best is still yet to come from you Lydon?
“Yeah I believe so. I don’t believe nobody has seen the best of me yet. I feel like if a fighter is going to do it, this one will be the one.”
Has it been difficult keeping your mind on this fight on Saturday?
“Not at all – I’m pumped. I’m pumped to be here. I feel like this is a massive thing for boxing in itself. Shoutout to your excellency for being the man that we need for these fights to happen. Putting the politics aside and the best fight the best. This is a massive change and the name Opetaia will have its print on it. I’m here to make a statement.
“This is his (Zorro) chance, this is his chance to become a World Champion. If you want to be the best you’ve got to beat the best, and here I am. I’m expecting the best version of him. I’ve prepared for the best version of him. Man, I’m ready to go to war.
What sort of energy are you getting from Zorro?
“He’s a pretty calm dude – who cares what energy he’s giving off? I’m worried about my own energy, my own camp, everything that I’ve got to do. It doesn’t matter what he’s giving off.”
Does it need to be a devastating knockout?
“It doesn’t have to be a knockout it just has to be a great performance – a great display of boxing skills. I believe this is just another step closer to becoming the undisputed Cruiserweight king, and I cannot wait for the next step.”
Do you think you can hang in the Heavyweight division?
“I know I can hang in the Heavyweight division but right now I’ve got my own goals. I’ve got a lot of boxes to tick as a Cruiserweight and until they’re ticked, we’ll worry about that later.”
Mick Francis, Tasman Fighters:
“Firstly I’d like to say thank you to the government of Saudi Arabia and all of the promoters for putting this show on. It’s something that Jai and Aussie boxing needs. Jai has been looking for these opportunities for the last couple of years and we appreciate the opportunity that finally came. That’s definitely the plan (to box in Saudi Arabia again), we got this fight and there’s another fight probably in March, so Jai will be on that as well and hopefully bringing a major fight back here.”
You wanted to get out of York Hall and here you are..
“I got my wish. When I said that I was anticipating maybe the Copper Box or The O2 and then the phone call came for Saudi. I’m just focused on Saturday at the moment. Like I’ve been saying all week, it’s a massive opportunity for me and I’m going to take it with both hands.”
Why are you so calm?
“I don’t really know. This is just how I’ve always been. Just calm and collected. I think that’s just from my life outside of the ring and my journey. I just keep my cool and focus on the task ahead. That’s it really.”
What does your radar tell you about Jai Opetaia?
“He’s a great fighter. You know, like I said he wasn’t really on my radar. I’m a fan of him, fan of his style when I watched him against Briedis, he’s got great footwork, great hand speed. He’s game, he can take a shot – he’s a great fighter. He’ll definitely be able to test me and I kind of look forward to that to be honest.”
What’s your main advantage on Saturday?
“I just think my will to win. Obviously he’s going to have the same thing as well but like that’s kind of where my belief is. My will to win and my self-belief in myself and my skills.”
The ‘Day of Reckoning’ comes after the ‘Battle of the Baddest’, which was held on October 28 during the opening of Riyadh Season 2023, in which Tyson Fury defeated Francis Ngannou.
The fourth edition of Riyadh Season, themed “Big Time,” offers many entertainment options and experiences. It continues to attract visitors from across the globe to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, during the winter months, providing them with the opportunity to partake in thousands of concerts, exhibitions, and other distinctive entertainment events. Notable celebrities and prominent international brands contribute to the grandeur of this occasion.
Tickets for events and experiences in the zone can be reserved through the WeBook application by accessing the following link: