Heavyweight contender Joseph Parker is leaning towards Deontay Wilder winning tonight in his fight against Zhilei Zhang in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Parker, who owns victories over both Wilder and Zhang, feels that the former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay (43-3-1, 42 KOs) will get the victory tonight against the 41-year-old Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) in their 12-round headliner at the Kingdom Arena, live on DAZN PPV.

Interestingly, Parker had more trouble beating Zhang last March than in his one-sided twelve-round unanimous decision over Wilder last December in Riyadh. Zhang knocked Parker down twice in their fight and would have beaten him if he hadn’t gassed out.

Many would agree that Zhang made a mistake coming into the fight with Parker weighing 291 lbs, as he was too heavy to fight hard in the second half of the contest to get the knockout or decision win. Still, Parker edged it slightly, winning a 12-round majority decision.

Some fans on social media believe the only reason Parker thinks Wilder will win is that he’d rather fight him in a rematch than a trimmer Zhang, who might be a different story the second time around now that he’s lost weight and is ready to fight hard.

Parker’s Assessment of Wilder’s Power

“Wilder, this fight he’s having with Zhang, I’m looking forward to what he does. He’s had a history of knocking everyone out. I was glad that I was able to avoid all those big punches coming my way,” said Joseph Parker to Fight Hub TV, reflecting on his recent win over Deontay Wilder last December in Riyadh.

Parker was fighting defensively the entire fight with Wilder, using movement, and only rarely coming forward to attack. Wilder fought like he had no true game plan, and it’s clear that his trainer, Malik Scott, had put together a poor strategy for the fight. Surprisingly, Wilder didn’t dump Scott after the fight.

“I felt one punch here against my glove, and I was so happy that my hand was up,” said Parker when asked how Wilder’s punching power felt. “Usually, it’s low. I was like, ‘Thank you.’”

Wilder only threw a handful of punches the entire fight. He was moving and missing badly with the punches he did throw. He never targeted Parker’s body, which he should have done because he constantly moved his head, making it difficult to connect cleanly.

Parker had been bludgeoned by Joe Joyce in his knockout loss to him in 2022, but Wilder fought like he hadn’t studied that fight at all. Again, it goes back to Wilder’s trainer, Scott. He should have followed the blueprint that Joyce had created because it was only obvious that Parker couldn’t handle pressure and was timid and chinny.

“I thought, ‘I was lucky it was not my face.’ I felt the power, but imagine if one of them had landed clean,” said Parker. “It would have been a different result. So, I was very happy my defense was good. His power, I felt on my glove and it was like sharp and stingy and fast.

“When Wilder lunges, he connects, and when he connects, you’ve seen what he’s done in the past. Thankfully, I got that one. Zhang is coming trimmer in this fight, and Wilder, you can see a different Wilder, a different approach this fight week.”

Zhang will be a problem for Wilder if he fights the way he did last December or if he resembles the same guy that lost twice to Tyson Fury.

Leaning Towards Wilder

“He’s more aggressive self. Both guys have a point to prove. A loss for either one would be very hard to come back from. They’d be pushed towards retirement and lower fights. So, I’m leaning a little bit towards Wilder. I’m not sure why,” said Parker.

It’s interesting that Parker doesn’t have a clue why he’s backing Wilder to win. He should know why he’s picking him over Zhang, as he fought both of them, and you would think he would have a clear idea of who he feels is the better of the two.

“I think with that right hand, Zhang doesn’t have the most movement with his upper half. When you’re a fighter, and you look at your whole career, and you look at the position you’re in, and maybe he’s giving himself that challenge,” said Parker about Wilder saying he’ll retire if he loses tonight. “If he loses this fight, it’s going to be close to retirement.

“If he wants to continue fighting, maybe he’s giving himself that challenge inside his head. You never know with a fighter. If they are talking about retirement, it could be a different mindset altogether,” said Parker.

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