Is Deontay Wilder aiming to score a stunning first-round knockout when he fights Zhilei Zhang tomorrow night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia? Wilder has said more than a few times – at yesterday’s final presser ahead of tomorrow’s massive ‘5 Vs. 5’ card, and also when mingling with members of the media afterward – that he will score a KO over Zhang that will “be like Muhammad Ali did against Sonny Liston.”

Wilder said he plans to “stand over his [Zhang’s] body like ’65.”

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“I’m looking forward to proving I have still got what it takes, I have still got the juice,” Wilder said ahead of the Zhang collision. “I’m going to be like Muhammad Ali did against Sonny Liston; I’m going to stand over his body like ’65.”

As fans know, the iconic image of the massively controversial knockdown Ali scored over Liston recently celebrated its 59th birthday, as did the fight that took place in Lewiston, Maine – and all these years later, we do not know if Liston took a dive or not. It’s odd that Wilder would bring up this particular KO and use it as a declaration of intent. Wilder could have picked some truly devastating heavyweight knockouts and stated how he is planning to emulate one of them at the expense of Zhang. Instead, Wilder has picked a KO where the productive punch was soon labeled “The Phantom Punch.”

We all hope there will be nothing controversial or mysterious about the ending of tomorrow’s big heavyweight fight; we hope there will be no phantom punches thrown. And as hard as both men hit, there shouldn’t be any doubt about the winner or how he achieved victory. The Ali-Liston rematch was a fight that took place under a curtain of political unrest, and some people do say Liston took a dive so as to get out of the arena before a Malcolm X supporter took a shot at Ali but hit him instead.

There are no political ramifications regarding tomorrow’s fight. It’s just two heavyweight contenders, one a former WBC champion, both badly needing a win. Neither man will be looking to take a dive tomorrow, that’s for sure. But Wilder, if he does take Zhang down, in whatever round, will he really stand over his fallen foe and taunt him the way Ali did Liston? Is this what Wilder has in mind? Wilder certainly is an unpredictable fellow, and as such, his is not an easy mind to fathom.

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