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Preview: Zhilei Zhang vs. Deontay Wilder

This fight is intriguing for several reasons, not least of which are the questions surrounding both fighters following their recent losses to a resurgent Joseph Parker.


New York, NY, USA (May 24, 2024) - On June 1st, the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will host a highly anticipated top heavyweight clash between two of the division's most fearsome punchers. Former titleholder Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) will face Chinese powerhouse Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) in a bout that could position the winner to challenge newly crowned undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang both have crunching power. The question is who lands first.

This matchup is intriguing for several reasons, not least of which are the questions surrounding both fighters following their recent losses to a resurgent Joseph Parker (35-3, 23 KOs). Wilder's defeat to Parker was a curious affair where the Alabama native appeared hesitant, avoiding significant exchanges and failing to unleash his notorious right hand with the usual devastating intent. On the other hand, Zhang had Parker down twice but couldn't capitalize, allowing the New Zealand star to rally and secure a decision victory.

Assuming both fighters bring their A-game to Riyadh, fans can expect an explosive showdown. Both Wilder and Zhang possess the kind of power and accuracy that can end a fight with a single shot. Wilder has recently been vocal about his desire for a fourth bout with Tyson Fury and his ambition to become undisputed ruler of the division, a sentiment likely aimed at enticing the deep-pocketed Saudi backers who are committed to heavyweight boxing's premier events.

Zhang, meanwhile, has built a reputation on a solid amateur background and a methodical professional career. His recent stoppages of Joe Joyce and a disputed loss to Filip Hrgovic have cemented his status as a dangerous contender. Despite his respectable effort against Parker, Zhang has faced criticism for his inability to close the deal when it mattered most.

From a technical standpoint, Zhang is the superior operator. His tactical acumen and solid chin make him a formidable opponent. Wilder, however, is renowned for his extraordinary one-punch power, capable of turning the tide of a fight in an instant. While Zhang's durability will be tested, Wilder's own resilience and chin will also come under scrutiny. If Zhang can put Wilder in trouble, it could spell curtains for the American.

The outcome of this bout will largely depend on its nature. A tactical match would benefit Zhang, who can control the pace and distance with his superior boxing skills. However, if the fight turns into a firefight, Wilder's explosive power gives him a significant edge, possibly a 60-40 advantage.

In the lead-up to this fan-friendly mega-fight, both fighters have talked a good game. The guess here is that Zhang will control the action and catch Wilder in an exchange before the "Bronze Bomber" can unleash his game-changing right hand. Expect Zhang to win by TKO before the seventh round.

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