ANTHONY JOSHUA will be hoping to provide a Christmas cracker when he faces Otto Wallin next month.
The English heavyweight is due to battle the Swede in Saudi Arabia on December 23.
After back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk and the end of his WBA, IBF and WBO world titles, the 34-year-old needed a convincing comeback in 2023.
But his career suffered another bloody nose when he was dragged the distance by Jermaine Franklin on his comeback fight in April.
There were a couple of boos at the end as AJ claimed the victory via unanimous decision.
The Watford-born star did not take long to get back in the ring and he produced a knockout performance to destroy Robert Helenius in the seventh round in August.
Now at the age of 34, he knows that winning run must continue as he looks to secure future battles with the likes of Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
Joshua does enjoy a very slight height advantage over Wallin, but after weighing in at 250lb for his last outing, it will be his bulk that will make him the favourite.
The tricky southpaw famously gave Fury an almighty scare.
He fought the Gypsy King in Las Vegas back in September 2019 – and the Brit needed his cut man to save him that night.
Fury was caught with a huge left hook from Wallin in the third round, and at the end of the sixth, the ringside doctor was called in to have a look at the gash.
The now WBC champ was forced to go into panic mode and stepped up his attacks over worries it might be stopped and he barraged his way into a points win, but not before some scares along the way from the brave Swede.
Now Wallin, who is two years younger than AJ, will be hoping to go one better by beating his next English opponent.
While his knockout record is not as good as Joshua’s, with 14 from his 28 bouts, that loss to Fury is the only blemish on his record.
And he already has experience of facing AJ as the pair fought twice as amateurs before hitting the pro ranks – although the Swede was on the losing side on points in both of fights.
But he comes into this one on a six-match winning streak since that clash with Fury, and he had his hand-raised last time out after claiming a split decision triumph over Murat Gassiev in September.