Wilder vs. Zhang: Pegged for June 1st in Saudi Arabia

By Robert Segal - 03/22/2024 - Comments

A heavyweight crossroads fight between former WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang is being negotiated for June 1st in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both fighters are coming off disappointing defeats against Joseph Parker and need wins to keep their careers alive.

If it gets done, it will be on the undercard of the undisputed light heavyweight championship clash between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

Double Dose of Disappointment

The 38-year-old Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) has lost three out of his last four fights and looked uninspired in his last contest against Parker on December 23rd.

Wilder spent most of the fight moving around the ring, failing to let his hands go, and appearing timid. He made Parker look good in comparison, which was hard to do because he’d been viewed as washed going into the contest.

Former WBO interim champion Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) lost to Parker by a 12-round majority decision earlier this month on March 8th in Riyadh. Zhang knocked Parker down twice but failed to step on the gas due to stamina issues. He looked too heavy to let his hands go the way he had in his consecutive knockout victories over Joe Joyce.

“Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang are in the process of finalizing a deal for a June 1 fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN. The heavyweight bout will take place on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undisputed title fight. Two monster punchers,” said Mike Coppinger on X.

And the Point of This Fight Is…?

Boxing fans on social media are less than enthused at seeing Wilder and Zhang fight, as they would prefer to see other match-ups involving the pair.

A rematch between Zhang and Parker would have made more sense, given that many felt that the two-time Chinese Olympian had done enough to deserve a win against him.

In Wilder’s case, he looks shot at 38, and it doesn’t matter who he fights. The ambition and the hunger that the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist once had is gone after making a ton of money from his three fights against Tyson Fury.

Wilder’s two knockout losses in those fights also appear to have dented his confidence, as he looked afraid to throw against Parker.

The loser of the Wilder vs. Zhang fight might need to retire because there won’t be a lot of offers for big paydays.