Sources: Wilder-Zhang, Dubois-Hrgovic on tap

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 clash between two of boxing’s most dangerous punchers will take place on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undisputed light heavyweight championship bout.

Wilder and Zhang will both enter the ring in desperate pursuit of a victory to remain relevant in boxing’s glamour division. Both fighters are reeling from decision losses to Joseph Parker in Riyadh. The former heavyweight titleholder pulled off a major upset in December with a wide-points win over the American that spoiled plans for a long-awaited matchup between Anthony Joshua and Wilder.

Joshua went on to brutally knock out Francis Ngannou instead, and on that undercard earlier this month, Parker scored another upset with a decision win over Zhang, who floored Parker twice in the bout but was otherwise outboxed.

Rather than take the usual boxing journey of comeback bouts, Wilder and Zhang will now head into a high-stakes bout that will position the winner for another marquee heavyweight bout. Two weeks earlier, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will vie for the undisputed heavyweight championship on May 18 in Riyadh.

Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) is one of the division’s all-time biggest punchers. But the fighter from Alabama has lost three of his past four bouts. Two of those losses came in the championship trilogy with Fury. Fury scored a seventh-round TKO in the 2020 rematch and then an 11th-round knockout the next year that was named ESPN’s Fight of the Year and KO of the Year.

Wilder, ESPN’s No. 7 heavyweight, is a former heavyweight champion who dropped Fury four times across three fights. He’s 38, and although he’s an inch taller than Zhang, he figures to concede close to 80 pounds to much heavier Zhang. Wilder weighed 213 pounds in the loss to Parker.

Zhang will be 41 on fight night. He is ESPN’s No. 6 heavyweight and a southpaw puncher who is light on his feet considering his enormous size. The fighter from China is 6-foot-6 and weighed 291.5 pounds in the loss to Parker.

Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) broke out last year with a pair of stoppage victories over Joe Joyce. His previous defeat came against Filip Hrgovic, a fighter he also knocked down.

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