Home Boxing News Zhilei Zhang scores impressive fifth-round knockout of ex-WBC champ Deontay Wilder

Zhilei Zhang scores impressive fifth-round knockout of ex-WBC champ Deontay Wilder

Zhilei Zhang crumples Deontay Wilder to the canvas. Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Five rounds was all it took for heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang to put the final nail in Deontay Wilder’s career.

In the main event of the 5v5 card pitting Queensberry Promotions boxers against fighters from the Matchroom Boxing stable, the six-foot-six Chinese southpaw made it a clean sweep for the Queensberry contingent.

The 40-year-old Zhang 27-2-1 (22) proved to have too much in the tank for Wilder 43-4-1 (42), as he was able to hit the 38-year-old from Tuscaloosa, Alabama almost at will.

Zhang hurt Wilder early in the second, bulling him to the corner and letting his hands go with the American trapped on the ropes.

There was real concern in Wilder’s corner as he sat on his stool at the end of the session as they urged their man to let his hands go if he wanted to win. For one reason or another, Wilder was unable to pull the trigger on his punches.

When Wilder did let his hands go in the fourth, he was repeatedly caught with counters from Zhang, who outweighed him by 68 pounds.

Wilder, of course, has had success against much bigger men before. But it wasn’t size alone that beat him on this night. It was father time and the crafty accuracy of Zhang.

The end came dramatically in the fifth round.

Wilder went to launch a right hand, but Zhang connected first with a right hook. The punch spun Wilder around and as he struggled to get his bearings, the 282-pound Zhang jumped on him, landing another hard right hook.

Wilder crumpled to the deck. His head bounced off the canvas.

Somehow, Wilder made it to his feet at eight. He wobbled for a moment and after a quick assessment from referee Kieran McCann, the bout was waved off. The official time was 1:51.

“I would like to thank every friend who came here over the world and fans in China, it is midnight there and you are watching me,” Zhang said after the win.

“I lost to [Joseph] Parker, it was a fair loss. He was the better man that night. I’ve learned since then. As long as the bell doesn’t ring, stay focused.

“I have to pretend Wilder didn’t have a right hand and I successfully took it away.

“Wilder punches hard, I give him a lot of respect.”

Asked what’s next, Zhang responded: “Road to the championship.”

The future for Wilder seems less clear. After losing four of his last five bouts – including three by knockout – it would seem that retirement beckons.

Whatever he decides to do, he has had a remarkable career. Wilder ruled as WBC heavyweight for five years from 2015 to 2020. He made 10 successful title defences during his reign with only two of those bouts going the distance before losing his belt to Tyson Fury 34-1-1 (24) in their rematch four years ago.