Deontay Wilder could be facing WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou event on March 8th in Saudi Arabia.
Chris Mannix reports that Wilder-Zhang is a potential fight for that card. However, Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) could also face another opponent on the card, but there’s no word on who that might be.
Wilder’s chance to re-ignite his career
Putting Deontay in with Zhang would be a bad idea, and unless the Saudis want to see the Alabama native get put out of his misery, they should focus on finding a better opponent, preferably not someone who’s completely washed.
Joseph Parker would be a decent opponent for Zhang, as that would make a nice cat & mouse type of contest. Zhang would have to chase Parker, who was scared out of his wits in his 11th round knockout loss to Joe Joyce in September 2022.
That performance by Parker was his true level. The only reason Parker looked good against Wilder is because he has nothing left and rarely fights anymore. I mean, one round in two years. What does that tell you about Wilder? He’s checked out mentally and needs to call it a day.
Can Zhang stop Wilder?
Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) would be a tall order for the 38-year-old Wilder, who looked every bit of his age and then some in his recent loss to Joseph Parker at the Saudi event on December 23rd last year in Riyadh.
Wilder looked old, afraid, and unable to pull the trigger. Parker was complimented for putting together a great fight, but he didn’t have to do anything because Wilder was moving nonstop in circles the entire fight, not throwing punches, and looking like he didn’t want to be there. Literally, anyone in the heavyweight division would have beaten Wilder last December because he’s finished as a fighter.
Zhlei Zhang deserves better opponent
Zhang twice knocked out Joe Joyce in 2023, which is a heck of a lot better wins last year than Joshua’s victories over Otto Wallin, Robert Helenius, and Jermaine Franklin. Joe Joyce would have destroyed those three weak opponents.
So for Zhang to twice defeat Joyce suggests that he deserves to be in a better fight than Wilder, someone like Parker or Joshua, who clearly is being coddled by his promoter Eddie Hearn, matched against exclusively weak opposition since his second loss to Oleksandr Usyk in 2022.