WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol’s opponent Malik Zinad has an opportunity to make a name for himself even in a losing effort this Saturday night in their clash on the 5 vs 5 event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Libyan-born Zinad (22-0, 16 KOs) is not well known, and this is his chance to show fans his talent when he takes on the unbeaten Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs). If Zinad loses but looks good, it’s a win-win situation for him.

Bivol was supposed to be fighting IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in the main event, but he suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Zinad.

Boxing expert Chris Algieri doesn’t think Bivol is overlooking Zinad because that’s not the type of person he is. Still, Zinad is going to be a tough opponent for him because he has skills and is in his prime at 30.

Potential Upset?

Bivol has looked tired and drained for the last two weeks. It’s unclear if that’s just due to the strain of making weight or signs of aging. Either way, Bivol doesn’t look good, and if he’s not 100% for this fight, he could lose.

“Zinad is getting his opportunity now. It’s a tough opportunity, don’t get me wrong. Bivol is always Bivol, but it’s a bit of a banana peel type of fight,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Probox TV about Dmitry Bivol’s title defense against Malik Zinad this Saturday night.

It’s the perfect situation for Zinad to come from out of nowhere, with no expectations or pressure on him to try and upset the tired-looking Bivol.

You’d still like to have seen Zinad fight better opposition during his career to prepare him for this moment. He’s not fought well-known opponents, and it might be too big of a leap up in competition for Zinad.

Zinad’s last five opponents:

Jerome Pampellone
Mickael Diallo
Ezequiel Maderna
Islam Teffahi
Almir Skrijelj

“I think Bivol is smarter than that, and not just because of who he is and what he’s done in his career. He’s a hardnosed guy. He’s going to do the work no matter what,” said boxing expert Chris Algieri. “All that time he spent out of the ring. That’s not his fault. I think he’s still hungry.”

Bivol didn’t look so great in his last fight against Lyndon Arthur. He was hurt in that fight when he got a little careless. If he does that against Zinad, he might get knocked out because he can punch.

“He has a rejuvenated hunger in him becasue of that inactivity he had. He had the Arthur fight, and that was his last fight,” said Algieri.

“That was kind of a get busy, get back to it fight. This fight kind of feels like that, too, except when you look beyond it who Zinad actually is. Listen, Zinad is 30. That’s his prime. 6’1”, 22-0, 16 knockouts. All those numbers check out.

“This is an opportunity for Zinad, and I’m sure he understands what it is. This is a gigantic platform. This is something he’s been working on for a long time. He’s had plenty of time to prepare for this. Yeah, this is very much a banana peel, a trap fight. It’s a very difficult fight,” said Algieri.

“It’s a no-lose situation for Zinad because Zinad is good enough to look good in this fight regardless of what happens,” said Malignaggi. “Because of Bivol’s mental state, he’s not the kind of guy that overlooks guys.

“Even if Zinad was the kind of guy that would be liable to upset somebody, I don’t think Bivol is the guy he upsets.”

“Even if he pushes Bivol, this is a door opening for him 100%,” said Algieri about Zinad.

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