Zhilei Zhang discusses Deontay Wilder’s defeat against Parker

By Robbie Bannatyne - 12/25/2023 - Comments

Zhilei Zhang says Deontay Wilder’s defeat against Joseph Parker was caused by various factors last Saturday night, one of them being his inactivity.

For a fighter that has been as inactive as former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder has been, it was a mistake for him to move around the ring the entire fight, tiring out his spindly legs and taking away his punching power against Parker.

Zhilei felt that was something that Deontay should not have done if his game plan was to try to KO Parker. It’s difficult to get full power on your shots when you’re moving around, not planting your feet, and tiring out your legs.

Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott should have clued him in to stop moving after the first round, but he failed to. Malik failed Deontay.

Zhang thinks it’s going to be difficult for the 38-year-old Wilder to get back to the top of

Problem Zhang saw that led to Wilder’s defeat:

  • Inactivity: 14 months gap between Deontay’s last fight
  • Overreliance on the right hand
  • Low punch output: Deontay threw less than 100 punches the entire fight with Parker, which it impossible for him to win without scoring a knockout
  • Weight too light: 213 lbs is too light for Deontay to be fighting against 240+ lb heavyweights.
  • Moving around too much: Wilder should have been more stationary because he took away his power by moving constantly against Parker.
  • Failure to adapt style: Wilder’s opponents have studied his fighting style, and they know what to expect from him now because he’s failed to change his game. He fights the same exact way every time.
  • Waiting until the twelfth round to finally start throwing shots

WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhang feels that Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) was too focused on throwing his right hand, and Parker (34-3, 23 KOs) had prepared to take that weapon away from him.

Wilder’s inactivity hurt him

“As you could see that Parker’s activity in the ring and keeping busy for the last couple of years is definitely helping him. He has no ring rust,” said Zhilei Zhang to Fighthype, discussing Deontay Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker last Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Parker had fought only one good opponent since his loss to Dillian Whyte in 2018, losing to Joe Joyce in 2022, but just staying busy with his career gave him all the advantage that he needed against Deontay last Saturday night.

Wilder looked like his timing wasn’t there, and again, his decision to move nonstop against Parker took away his power, hurting his only chance of winning. It was bizarre that his coach Malike Scott didn’t make corrections early on because he could have had a better shot at winning.

The right hand trap

“When you look at Wilder. He hadn’t fought for 14 months, and throughout the fight, he was looking for that big right hand, and he barely found the opportunity to throw that,” Zhang continued.

Deontay should have used his jab and left hook to keep Parker honest, as he was reacting to every badly telegraphed right-hand attempt by the Bronze Bomber. If Wilder had used his left hand, Parker wouldn’t have been able to key on his right hand as much.

Wilder hasn’t shown ambition to keep fighting since his trilogy match against Tyson Fury, and it’s likely more to do with the huge windfall that he made from that fight. He got a lot of money, and when you get that kind of dough, it burns a hole in your pocket, and you want to spend it.

Constant movement was a mistake

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense that he was moving around like that. If you want to land a solid shot, why do you move around the ring like that? If you count total punches, Wilder probably threw 100 punches or probably less than 100 punches the whole fight, and he was being reactive the whole time instead of being proactive,” said Zhang.

“Wilder was trying to make something happen in the last round, but it was too late. Deontay Wilder has been at the top, and I would say he’s at the lower part of his career. It’s really hard to get back. You have to overcome a lot of physical and mental problems to come back after that,” said Zhilei.

Deontay’s low punch output prevented him from landing his right hand often enough to potentially KO Parker. If the game plan for Wilder was to move constantly, his trainer Malik should have known that he would need to throw many more punches because his power would drop off sharply. That failed to happen.

Instead of throwing more shots, Wilder threw less than he normally does, and that made it impossible for him to win. Again, this was an issue that should have been corrected by his trainer Scott, but it wasn’t.

Size matters

“Everybody is studying Deontay Wilder right now. They’re looking at his right hand. They’re looking at his footwork, and they are looking at everything he does, and they’re studying him and analyzing him,” Zhang continued. “So, that makes it even harder.

“Also, talking about his weight. He’s probably a little too light for a heavyweight to come in with that weight category. So, I think it’s a lot of factors to come back to the top,” said Zhang.

Asking Wilder to put on size is a dead end. He tried that against Tyson Fury in their trilogy match in 2021, and it had a negative impact on his cardio. Deontay was exhausted by the fifth round, and never got his second wind. With that said, Wilder needs to gain a little weight and come in around 220 lbs if he chooses to continue his career.

“No matter how you look at the weight thing with Deontay Wilder. I have to say size matters,” said Zhang. “No matter how you look at it, size matters in the heavyweight division, and I’ve been watching Deontay Wilder’s fights since day one. He does have that overwhelming right hand, and when that lands, it’s night-night.”

Wilder needs to adapt

“If a fighter is smart enough and capable enough to stay away from his right hand, that might be something to capitalize off of. I think the most important thing for Deontay Wilder right now is to have a good rest and to think about it, and make adjustments,” said Zhang when asked if he’d be interested in fighting Deontay.

The only real shot Wilder has of changing his style is if he dumps his coach Scott, gets a quality guy, and dedicates himself to training to change his style. He also needs to stay active, fighting three or four times a year instead of once every 24 months.

All of that is probably impossible for Wilder to do, as he’s made a lot of money and he’s not going to do the things he needs to for him to be successful.

“When you look at his previous fights, he kind of fights the same way he fought before,” said Zhang. “He kind of depends on his right hand. He’s still a dangerous fighter, and if that right hand lands on anybody, it’s still causing problems. But he needs to set it up, he needs to make adjustments, and other than that, he’s still dangerous.

“So, I would say rest first, make adjustments, and come back stronger,” said Zhang about what Wilder should do.

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