|RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Sept. 28, 2023) — Unbeaten British heavyweight standouts Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye will meet in a high-stakes clash Saturday, Oct. 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 12-round battle of emerging stars will serve as the chief support contest to the historic showdown between WBC & lineal heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson Fury and lineal MMA heavyweight world champion Francis Ngannou.
The premier combat sports event of the year, which marks the opening of Riyadh Season – the world’s biggest entertainment event – features a night of action delivered by boxing’s marquee division, the heavyweights.
Former WBO world champion Joseph Parker (32-3, 22 KOs), from Auckland, New Zealand, goes up against Canada’s Simon Kean (23-1, 22 KOs), and bone-crunching puncher Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0, 16 KOs), also residing in Canada, takes on Croatian veteran Agron Smakici (19-2, 17 KOs). Both fights are scheduled for 10 rounds.
And, in a special six-round special attraction, 18-year-old heavyweight phenomenon Moses Itauma (5-0, 3 KOs) will face an opponent to be named.
This unprecedented heavyweight spectacular is promoted by Queensberry, Top Rank and GIMIK Fight Promotions, along with Eye Of The Tiger, promoter of Kean and Makhmudov.
Fury-Ngannou and the heavyweight undercard will be available on pay-per-view in the United States.
Ipswich’s Wardley (16-0, 15 KOs) became English champion in 2021 with a first-round stoppage of Nick Webb before capturing British honors with a third-round TKO of Nathan Gorman last November. He is coming off a fourth-round TKO over Michael Coffie in April.
Adeleye (12-0, 11 KOs), from London, is the current WBO European champion, having won his maiden professional title by defeating the previously unbeaten Dmytro Bezus at York Hall in February and subsequently stopping Emir Ahmatovic in June.
The Adeleye-Wardley rivalry hit new heights at the Fury-Ngannou press conference in London earlier this month, as the fighters and their camps brawled on the red carpet. The melee left Wardley with cuts above his left eye and under his chin.
“I’ve got a clean bill of health,” Wardley said. “Nothing has changed. I am still feeling strong, moving hard, and hitting new numbers.
“I don’t know how to quantify how my desire to win by knockout has increased after what happened but, yes, substantially. Massively, because I am a professional person and I like to act like a professional, but if you want to go early, then that’s fine, and I am ready to go at any minute.
“When those situations occur, all it does is fuel the fire more. All you have done is made it worse for yourself. You’ve made me train harder, you’ve made me work for it more, you’ve made me want it more.”
Adeleye said, “I’m really looking forward to competing on the global stage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Everywhere I go, people are talking about this fight. I intend to put on a show and display why I’m the best young heavyweight out there.”
Parker captured the WBO crown in 2016 with a points triumph over future champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in Auckland. He made two title defenses before an unsuccessful unification fight against Anthony Joshua in 2018. He won the WBO Intercontinental championship in May 2021 with a decision victory over Derek Chisora, making a successful defense against the Chisora seven months later.
Parker lost a bid for the WBO Interim world title against Joe Joyce last September, but he has enjoyed a successful 2023 with wins over Jack Massey and Faiga Opelu. Kean won the WBC International Silver championship in 2019 with a defeat of former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich, making a successful defense against Daniel Martz the following year. He has won eight straight via the short route, most recently notching a seventh-round stoppage over Eric Molina in March.
Parker said, “I’m looking forward to being back in Saudi Arabia. It was great the last time I was there to support another fighter and boxing event. This time I’m going to take care of business in my own fight against a tough challenge in Simon Kean. It is fantastic to be on this card and to be part of this major event. My preparations are on point. There is not long to go now.”
Kean said, “This is the moment all fighters dream of their whole career. This is what I’ve been working for and asking for. It’s time to deliver.”
Makhmudov won the WBC Continental Americas strap in 2019, becoming the first man to stop Jonnie Rice. He went on to win the NABF and NABO belts with a slew of wins over notable opponents, including Pavel Sour, Erkan Teper and Mariusz Wach. Makhmudov had a triumphant United States debut in July, obliterating Raphael Akpejiori in two rounds. Smakici challenged for the vacant European title in his last fight, but he suffered a loss to the undefeated Agit Kabayel. The Croatian’s only other setback came against then-unbeaten Zhan Kossobutskiy in 2019.
Makhmudov said, “Saudi Arabia is a very special place for me. It’s always been my goal to fight there, so I’m grateful to have this opportunity. I’m looking forward to putting on a great show.”