Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, 43-3-1 (42KOs), marks his return on June 1 against Zhilei Zhang, 26-2-1 (21 KOs) as a member of team Matchroom in the lauded Matchroom vs. Queensberry series, serving as the undercard to the highly anticipated undisputed clash at 175lbs between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitrii Bivol. 

On December 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wilder, who had been inactive in 2023, lost to former WBO champion Joseph Parker on points. In defeat, Wilder saw the opportunity to secure a much-awaited fight with Anthony Joshua go up in smoke. 

A victory against Zhang will see the American return to the division’s top table and be placed back into the conversation for a Joshua fight and the other remaining heavyweight contenders who are not named Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk. 

Wilder was in London this past Monday to announce his fight against Zhang. He told the gathered press that his love for the sport had returned and vowed to demonstrate why he is statistically the hardest-hitting heavyweight in the sport’s history. 

Trainer Malik Scott reaffirmed Wilder’s thinking in an interview, saying he and Wilder were ashamed of the performance against Parker. The former world champion predicts he will be victorious against Zhang by knockout, which will reignite interest in a Joshua fight.

Speaking to the BBC, Wilder explained that it would be a shame if he were not able to face his British rival before the pair retire. 

“I always said it before; it’ll be a shame if we never fought each other,” Wilder told the BBC.

“It only takes that one fight, that one night. June 1 is going to be that night, that one fight.

“Deontay Wilder knocks [Zhang’s] head off and the world goes crazy.

“And there we go again, Wilder versus Joshua. They want it [again].”

Reflecting on his defeat to Parker, Wilder insisted he remains a better fighter than former foe Parker and that the New Zealander was the better man on the night. 

“That monster wasn’t there no more,” said Wilder

“It was one of those boring fights [vs. Parker] where if anyone did any action, they won.

“That’s how I look at that fight. Joseph Parker is definitely not better than Deontay Wilder. He was just the better man on the night.”

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