Home Boxing News Deontay Wilder goes all in against Zhilei Zhang on ‘5v5’ card in...

Deontay Wilder goes all in against Zhilei Zhang on ‘5v5’ card in Saudi Arabia

Zhilei Zhang and Deontay Wilder. Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder 43-3-1 (42) will get his last roll of the dice when he faces Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-2-1 (21) at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 1.

The bout has been added to the ‘5v5’ card headlined by the four-belt unification clash between WBC, WBO and IBF light heavyweight boss Artur Beterbiev 19-0 (19) and WBA kingpin Dmitry Bivol 22-0 (11). The winner of that fight with be crowned The Ring champion at 175-pounds.

American Wilder, 38, is coming off a lacklustre 12-round unanimous decision loss to former WBO champion Joseph Parker 35-3 (23) at the same venue in December. The scores of that bout were 118-111, 120-108 and 118-110 in favour of the 32-year-old Kiwi after Wilder largely failed to land any meaningful punches.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Wilder admitted on Monday at a press conference in London to announce the bouts on the card.

“I’ve had to regroup and thing don’t just change overnight. You have to keep working and keep pushing until you get what you want.

“I’m at this point in time where I’m narrowing it down. Come the night of the fight we will see if I’ve got it or not. This fight I’m holding it down as my last dance, my last chance.

“That’s what I’m taking it accordingly as. I’m just ready to do what I’m known to do. To be the Wilder I am.

“I lost my love and passion for this business. I lost my hunger for so many different reasons, but now I’m in an opportunity where people love the wildness of Wilder.”

The ‘5v5’ concept was designed for rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren to pit five fighters from each of their stables against the other.

There was the provision for one wildcard entrant within that deal, allowing for one boxer to be selected who is not promotionally aligned to be included. Wilder was Hearn’s pick.

“I feel good,” Wilder said. “No one thought me and Eddie would work together, so this is the ultimate surprise right here.”

Chinese southpaw Zhang, 40, sees his career at something of a crossroads too. Last month he dropped a majority decision to Parker in Saudi Arabia, losing by scores of 113-113, 114-112 and 115-111. Zhang sent Parker to the deck in the third and eighth rounds but faded late.

“I respect Zhang, he’s a good fighter, but it’s my time,” Wilder said. “I’m breaking it down and come the night of the fight we will see if I’ve still got it or not. I’m seeing this as my last stand.

“Here I am, I’m not playing around this time. I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose this time, only to gain.

“I mean business, I can feel the desire and sensation in my heart is coming back. You’ll see what I’m talking about.”

Zhang realises the importance of the bout too.

“Deontay Wilder is the heaviest puncher in boxing,” he said. “I have to be careful but when the opportunity shows itself, I will not hold back.”