Heavyweight action in Saudi: An appraisal

By John Stevens - 12/25/2023 - Comments

As expected, Saturday night’s card in Saudi delivered the goods with some great fights, with shocks and dramas throughout. In my pre-fight article, I made some predictions. Three of them, I got spot on, the other three I got very wrong! Let’s have a look at the night’s actions as it unfolded


Well…..nothing much really needs to be said about this, does it? Even Hrgovic looked embarrassed! I thought he might have wanted to get a few rounds under his belt just for the sake of justifying the long trip out there, but he couldn’t even do that cos DeMori just folded under the first few right hands. What was the point of this farcical match-up?


As expected Sanchez started out slow and methodical, taking a hard look at his opponent. I was beginning to think that he was being just a little bit too laid-back because you could see Fa’s confidence growing with each round. But this confidence was misplaced because all of a sudden Sanchez changed gears and devastated him with some very serious and accurate punches.

Up until that point, Sanchez was looking nothing very special, and then it all changed in the blink of an eye. Talk about lulling your opponent into a false sense of security! Fa looked absolutely shell-shocked by what happened and didn’t really know what hit him. It was a crazy ending, for sure. Sanchez really does seem to be the real thing, and I look forward to him stepping up now into a higher company


I predicted an early end to this one, and I was right – only I got it the wrong way around! I hadn’t really seen much of Kabayel as he hasn’t exactly been a busy fighter. I did know, however, that his style was toe-to-toe boxing and slugging. I thought that would be his downfall against Mahmudov, who had left a trail of destruction behind him up to this point.

Boy, was I wrong! Kabayel showed no fear or trepidation whatsoever against the huge Makmudov and played him at his own game – standing straight in front of him and going at it. What was shocking was how every punch he landed seemed to send shudders through Makmudov. You gotta hand it to the guy – he boxed beautifully and was accurate and spiteful with what he was throwing, head and body, and big Mak just crumbled under the pressure.

Kabayel for sure, goes up a long way in my estimations, and I would love to see him stepping up to face a top guy in his next fight. It’ll be interesting to see now where his management places him. A fight with the likes of Sanchez, Ajagba, or Anderson would be very interesting, and on this night’s performance, you can’t write him off against any of them

As for Makmudov – his stock has now dropped considerably, and the fear factor he had around him has surely completely vanished. Being a bully-type fighter, this crushing defeat will not have done his personal psyche any favors either, so where he goes from here, I’m not sure


I thought that Miller’s relentless pressure would get to Daniel in the end, and I still think that the Miller of a few years back would have done just that, but he looked nothing like that fighter here.

Whether that’s down to the extra weight he was carrying, the fact that he is now PED-free, inactivity, or lack of fitness, I don’t know – it was probably a mixture of all four – but aside from continually walking forward and imposing himself physically, he showed little else.

Dubois came out fighting the wrong fight, moving backward away from Miller and getting walked down. In the fourth round, I thought Miller was wearing him out, and he looked like he was tired and feeling the pressure. He was definitely rocked badly in this round, and I thought that it was the beginning of the end for him.

But then suddenly and probably at the behest of his corner, he totally changed tactics and started using angles while banging home his punches rather than backing up, and Miller was doing little else thereafter but following him around the ring while getting continually peppered with shots – and some very heavy ones too! From the fifth round, Dubois totally dominated and boxed very well, indeed, and you have to give him a lot of credit for the way he handled it.

Miller – another bully-type fighter, was humble in defeat and said he would be back fitter and better. This remains to be seen. As for Dubois, he surely now moves on to a higher game. A rematch with Joyce would be very interesting, seeing as Joyce, another bully-type fighter, was recently dismantled himself and has lost his invincible tag.

Joyce will obviously be looking for a way back in among the top guys. Whether he will fancy Dubois after this performance is another question, but this match-up seems to be the next logical step for both men. We will see if it comes to be


I thought that Parker’s only way to victory would be to jump on wilder with mean intentions from the start – and he certainly did this. Parker fought out of his skin here and dominated every round. However – wilder himself put in a very strange performance. He looked spindly-legged, physically weak, and seemingly completely lacking in balance.

Even his much-vaunted punching power seemed to have deserted him. The few shots he did manage to land had no effect whatsoever against the focused Parker, who was a man on a mission.

Without taking too much credit away from Parker, who did put in a fine performance – he seems to have beat a wilder who was a shell of what he used to be. Very strange indeed. My feelings tell me that this fight could spell the end of Deontay’s career, as I can’t really see where he goes now or even if he has the motivation left to make the effort


As expected, a cakewalk against a man with an extremely false-elevated ranking was hand-picked by the very shrewd Mr Hearn to build his fighter’s confidence up. Joshua came out with the look of a man who knew that he had nothing to worry about and went about his business accordingly.

The ‘Joshua is back’ headlines afterward are a little bit misleading! But the business is all about hype, so it is to be expected. Who Joshua faces next now that Wilder is probably out of the picture is the question.

Zhang has been calling him out, and if he takes that fight and comes through, then I will buy into the hype, too, because that is a very dangerous fight for him, to say the least. We will see

All in all, then, a very interesting night’s boxing, which opens the door for some very intriguing match-ups in the near future.

YouTube video