Boxing-Joshua back to his best with KO win over Swede Wallin

RIYADH, Dec 24 (Reuters) - British heavyweight Anthony Joshua rolled back the years to dominate Otto Wallin at Riyadh's Kingdom Arena early Sunday, with the Swede's corner stopping the fight in the break between the fifth and sixth rounds.

With soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo sitting ringside alongside former UFC champion Conor McGregor, the two heavyweights entered the ring well after 2 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) and Joshua immediately got to work, landing jabs and straight right hands on the southpaw Swede.

Joshua, a two-time unified heavyweight champion, dictated the fight from the centre of the ring, forcing his opponent to circle on the outside where Wallin struggled to land any offense.

Joshua, who twice beat Wallin on points as an amateur, hurt Wallin in the fifth, throwing thunderous hooks with both hands to leave the Swede unsteady on his feet as he headed back to his corner, and he never re-emerged as his team told the referee he could not continue.

Improving his record to 27 wins and three losses, the 34-year-old Joshua said he was delighted with the result but declined to say that he was back to his old self.

"I respect Otto. Throughout the whole build-up, I was telling everyone I need to focus on the man in front of me, because I respect what he's bringing to the table," Joshua said in the ring after the fight.

"Not so much a throwback fight. Just another day in the office."

The stoppage was the first in Wallin's professional career and only his second loss, following a defeat by Tyson Fury in September 2019.

In the co-main event, New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker put on a brilliant disciplined display to pull off a sensational unanimous decision win over American Deontay Wilder.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Richard Chang)

((philip.oconnor@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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