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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Matt Verri

Queensberry vs Matchroom: Deontay Wilder to fight Zhilei Zhang as blockbuster 5 vs 5 card confirmed

Deontay Wilder will make his return to the ring against Zhilei Zhang on a blockbuster night of boxing.

The 5 vs 5 card - a much-anticipated showdown between Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and Frank Warren’s Queensberry - was confirmed at a press conference on Monday, as the promotional rivals go head-to-head in Saudi Arabia.

Taking place on June 1 on the same card as an undisputed light-heavyweight bout between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, a point will be awarded for a decision win, while two points are on offer for a stoppage victory.

The two teams have each picked a captain too, who will have their points doubled. Matchroom opted for Wilder, while Queensberry put forward Hamzah Sheeraz.

Hearn and Warren previously selected two weight categories each, with a five picked by Turki Alalshikh, the Chair of the General Entertainment Authority in Saudi Arabia. The ten fighters took to the stage on Monday with masks on, before removing them to reveal the five bouts.

Wilder has been signed by Hearn to represent Matchroom, in his first fight since he produced a bizarrely lethargic performance in falling to defeat against Joseph Parker in December. He will take on Zhang, with the 40-year-old himself beaten by Parker last month on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou.

“I think this man has long been one of the most dangerous punches in the division,” Hearn said of his decision to sign Wilder. “Coming off a defeat, I think he’s going to come back more dangerous than ever.

“We’ll see what the future holds, but for one night only we work together. I believe this man is going to make a real statement and get back on the heavyweight scene, and produce an epic performance in Riyadh.

It is one of two heavyweight bouts on the card, as Daniel Dubois goes up against Filip Hrgovic for the IBF mandatory spot. That belt is set to become vacant after Tyson Fury’s undisputed bout with Oleksandr Usyk in May, leaving the winner of Dubois vs Hrgovic in prime position for a shot at a world title.

“Very confident, working hard,” Dubois said.

“We had a spar a while back. He keeps talking about that. I’m going to show him that people change. I’m a different animal now.”

Hrgovic replied: "I hope he's changed otherwise he will last one round only. That sparring wasn't good for him."

Raymond Ford will make the first defence of his WBA featherweight belt against British star Nick Ball, and it is also a clash between two unbeaten fighters in the middleweight division, with Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams taking on Sheeraz.

The light-heavyweight bout will see Craig Richards, who was beaten by Joshua Buatsi a year ago, go up against Queensberry’s Willy Hutchinson.

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