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Deontay Wilder Returns June 1: Here’s His Opponent

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Four top-10 heavyweights are on the brink of confirming two significant matches.

Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang, ranked seventh and sixth by ESPN in the heavyweight category, are nearing the finalization of a bout scheduled for June 1 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to ESPN sources.

In a similar vein, Filip Hrgovic and Daniel Dubois, ranked fifth and ninth respectively, are close to securing a match against each other on the same night, as reported by additional sources.

These heavyweight contests are set to feature on the undercard of the eagerly awaited fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

Wilder and Zhang are both aiming for a comeback win to stay competitive in the heavyweight division after both suffered decision losses to Joseph Parker in Riyadh.

Parker’s unexpected victory over Wilder in December derailed plans for a much-anticipated fight between Anthony Joshua and Wilder, leading Joshua to defeat Francis Ngannou in a knockout victory instead.

Earlier this month, Parker clinched another win against Zhang, despite being knocked down twice, due to his superior boxing skills.

Opting for a direct route back to prominence, Wilder and Zhang are set for a critical fight that will boost the victor towards another high-profile heavyweight match. This comes two weeks before Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk compete for the undisputed heavyweight title on May 18 in Riyadh.

Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs), known for his knockout power, has faced setbacks in recent matches, including two defeats in his trilogy with Fury. Fury won by a seventh-round TKO in their 2020 rematch and achieved an 11th-round knockout the following year, earning ESPN’s Fight of the Year and KO of the Year honors.

The former heavyweight champion, Wilder, known for knocking Fury down four times over their three bouts, is 38 years old and slightly taller than Zhang but is expected to be significantly lighter. Wilder weighed 213 pounds during his loss to Parker.

Zhang, turning 41 on the day of the fight, is a nimble southpaw puncher for his size. The Chinese boxer, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 291.5 pounds in his last fight against Parker, made a name for himself with two knockout victories over Joe Joyce last year.

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