Wilder vs Zhang: Could heavyweight superfight land on Hearn vs Warren card?

Saudi Arabia’s investment in boxing is producing a ton of fantastic matchups right now, and Deontay Wilder vs Zhilei Zhang would be yet another.

There are rumours that the two heavyweight giants could add further lustre – if it were needed – to that enormous June 1 card set for Riyadh.

The show of course already has a spectacular main event with that Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol light-heavyweight unification blockbuster. Oh, and there is the small matter of that Eddie Hearn vs Frank Warren 5 on 5 tournament. But it appears even that is not enough for Turki Alalshikh and co.

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Reports in the last few days have claimed that Wilder vs Zhang is another terrific showdown which could make it to that summer festival of boxing, but since then the messages have been mixed. Here is what we know so far.

Wilder vs Zhang ‘news’ breaks

This all started last Friday, when respected ESPN boxing writer Mike Coppinger got the apparent scoop that a Wilder vs Zhang showdown was in the works. Writing on Twitter/X, he said:

“Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang are in the process of finalizing a deal for a June 1 fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN. The heavyweight bout will take place on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undisputed title fight. Two monster punchers.”

That set the boxing community into overdrive with huge excitement about a match featuring two men who can really hit. But since then the excitement has tempered a little, courtesy of the official line from promoters Hearn and Warren.

Hearn and Warren react

Hearn, normally the man to tease an announcement or play up the potential for a big fight, played down reports that the fight was close to being done.

When asked if a deal was complete, he told IFL TV: “No, there’s a lot of heavyweight fights being discussed and that’s a great fight. Obviously, there’s the ‘5 vs 5,’ there’s Artur Beterbiev versus Bivol, there’s loads of big fights. So, no, but I’m sure there’ll be some massive fights come June 1st in Saudi Arabia.”

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Warren meanwhile had a short and terse response when asked about those reports following his Friday night TNT Sports show in London.

Also speaking to IFL TV, he said quite simply: “I’ve got nothing to say about it. Shouldn’t have been out”.

For now we wait to see if an official announcement comes to confirm a fight that would absolutely put bums on PPV seats come June 1.

Why Wilder vs Zhang would be great

Both men are huge punchers – pretty good start for a heavyweight fight to get fans excited.

Wilder (43-3-1) has an astonishing 42 KOs on his career resume and is probably the biggest puncher in the sport. But he has much to prove, at the age of 38 and coming off that hugely disappointing loss to Joseph Parker last December. That defeat scuppered a planned March superfight vs Anthony Joshua.

Zhang (26-2-1) meanwhile also has dynamite in his huge fists, but he too is coming off a damaging loss, also on points, and also to Parker. That came earlier this month, also in Riyadh.

The size angle here is also fascinating. At around 215lbs Wilder is one of the smaller heavyweights around in terms of sheer bulk. Zhang meanwhile might be the biggest – weighing in at a whopping 291lbs for his loss to Parker. So a potential gap of more than 70lbs (5 stones) between the pair.

Joseph Parker vs Zhilei Zhang Heavyweight Boxing Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Joseph Parker lands a big right hand during his heavyweight victory over Zhilei Zhang in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8, 2024 (Photo – Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing).