Zhang’s big win in Riyadh shook up heavyweight boxing

Zhilei Zhang scored the biggest win of his career on Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, potentially ending Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight career.

Knockout Punch

The 41-year-old Chinese boxer Zhang delivered a perfectly timed right hook that left Wilder, 38, dazed. With Wilder defenseless, Zhang (27-2-1, 21 KOs) rushed in and landed another powerful right hand, knocking Wilder to the canvas.

Although Wilder managed to get up before the count of ten, his legs were shaking, prompting the referee to stop the fight at 1:51 of the fifth round. Wilder’s inability to regain his balance and composure highlighted the ferocity of Zhang’s punches and his strategic execution throughout the bout.

«I blocked a couple of punches, but hell yeah, he punches hard,» Zhang said through an interpreter of Wilder (43-4-1, 42 KOs), known as one of the hardest hitters in heavyweight history. «I give him a lot of respect. He’s a heavy hitter. … I successfully took his right arm.»

Wilder’s hard streak

The loss marks Wilder’s fourth defeat in his last five fights. He lost a decision before that Joseph Parker in December and suffered two defeats against Tyson Fury in their heavyweight championship trilogy. Ahead of the fight, Wilder hinted that a loss could spell the end of his career, saying: “This could be the last goodbye, the farewell for Deontay Wilder.

Wilder’s recent losing streak is a significant departure from his earlier career, where he was known for his dominant performances and knockout power. His back-to-back defeats by Tyson Fury, where he was outclassed and outclassed, raised questions about his ability to compete at the highest level. The decision loss to Parker added to those doubts as Wilder struggled to adapt to Parker’s style and strategy.

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Zhang’s comeback

Zhang also recently faced a setback when he lost a decision to Parker, a former heavyweight titleholder. Despite knocking Parker down twice in March, Zhang lost on the judges’ scorecards. Now he’s back on what he calls «the road to the champion» and is targeting Oleksandr Usyk, who defeated Fury in Riyadh last month to become the undisputed champion.

Zhang’s journey has been marked by resilience and determination. His ability to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Parker to deliver a career-defining performance against Wilder speaks volumes for his dedication and skill. Zhang’s desires to face Usyk, the current undisputed champion, reflect his ambitions to reach the top of the heavyweight division. Apart from this, you can also read about – Mike Tyson is doing great after health care.

Battle Night Stats

According to ESPN BET, Zhang was a -150 favorite against Wilder. He is ranked No. 6 in the ESPN heavyweight rankings, while Wilder was No. 7. Zhang, who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, significantly outweighed Wilder at 282.8 pounds compared to Wilder’s 214.6 pounds .

Zhang used his size advantage to bully Wilder and keep him on the ropes. As a southpaw, Zhang’s right hooks landed repeatedly as Wilder struggled to release his powerful right hand. A key factor in his victory was Zhang’s ability to use his weight and southpaw stance to his advantage. His strategy of choking Wilder and preventing him from using his right hand effectively showcased his tactical acumen and boxing intelligence.

The final blow

In the fifth round, Zhang seized his moment. After Wilder landed a chopping right hand, he threw another right, which Zhang countered with a knockout. This last exchange highlighted Zhang’s precision and timing. His ability to capitalize on Wilder’s aggression and counter with a devastating punch was the culmination of his game plan and preparation. The knockout was a testament to Zhang’s power and technique and cemented his status as a formidable contender in the heavyweight division.

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Team competition

The match was part of a unique 5-on-5 team concept created by Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority. Zhang’s win added to a clean sheet for Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions against Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. This innovative team concept added an extra layer of excitement and competition to the event, showcasing the best talent from both promotional outfits.

After the fight, Alalshikh presented Warren with a check for $3 million. This substantial reward underlined the importance of the event and the high stakes. The financial incentive and competition format are likely to stimulate further interest and investment in similar events in the future.

Zhang’s victory not only marks a significant milestone in his career, but also shakes up the landscape of heavyweight boxing, leaving fans eager to see what comes next for both fighters. The ramifications of this fight go beyond the ring and affect the standings, future matches and the overall dynamic of the heavyweight division. Zhang’s rise and Wilder’s potential retirement could change the path to the championship, so the coming months will be crucial for the heavyweight scene.

Zhilei Zhang’s stunning victory over Deontay Wilder has significant implications for the heavyweight division. The fight showcased Zhang’s strength, strategy and resilience while highlighting Wilder’s recent struggles. While Zhang looks ahead to potential bouts with top contenders such as Oleksandr Usyk, the heavyweight division awaits further developments. The unique team concept and significant rewards add a new dimension to the sport and promise more exciting and competitive events in the future.

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Information is collected from ESPN and Yahoo Sports.

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