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Wilder v Zhang: Fight to be on Hearn v Warren Riyadh Season show in Saudi Arabia before Bivol v Beterbiev

Boxing star Deontay Wilder

Former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder will fight Zhilei Zhang as part of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Season, taking part in a ‘five v five’ show pitting Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn against Queensberry Promotions counterpart Frank Warren on June 1.

American Wilder has signed for Matchroom and will face fellow famed puncher Zhang after a press conference in which the 10 fighters involved were unmasked at a table alongside the promoters in London.

British heavyweight Daniel Dubois will meet Filip Hrgovic in a world-title final eliminator elsewhere on the card, which also features Liverpool featherweight Nick Ball challenging WBA world champion Raymond Ford.

Londoner Hamzah Sheeraz will take on American Austin Williams at middleweight, as well as an all-British cruiserweight fight between Willy Hutchinson and Craig Richards.

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“I never thought me and Eddie would be working together,” Wilder said, adding that he expected the arrangement with the younger of the two British promoters to be a one-off.

“This is the ultimate surprise, right here. This is what it’s all about: the best fighting the best, the best promoters going against each other.”

Wilder v Zhang before Bivol v Beterbiev

Wilder’s reputation as a knockout artist was damaged by his surprisingly tame points defeat to Joseph Parker in his most recent fight, which took place in Riyadh in December.

The WBC champion for more than five years, he has recorded 42 stoppages from 43 wins but suffered successive knockout defeats to Tyson Fury, who dethroned him in February 2020.

Zhang is known as ‘Big Bang’ and has 21 knockouts from 26 wins, suffering his first career defeat by decision to Hrgovic in Jeddah in August 2022.

The Chinese powerhouse recovered in impressive style with successive wins over Olympic champion Joe Joyce, taking the WBO interim belt in the first of those.

The 40-year-old lost the title by majority decision to Parker in Riyadh on March 8 on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s knockout win over Francis Ngannou.

The fights will provide support to Dmitry Bivol’s showdown with Artur Beterbiev to become undisputed light heavyweight champion.

Hearn and Warren’s teams will be awarded one point for a decision win and two for a knockout or technical knockout. The two captains – Wilder for Matchroom, Sheeraz for Queensberry – can earn double points.

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