Promoter Eddie Hearn is counting on Matchroom Team captain Deontay Wilder to deliver a knockout victory over Zhilei Zhang in their heavyweight contender to help give Matchroom Boxing the win in the 5V5 competition against Queensberry this Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Hearn’s Belief in Wilder’s Resurgence

Hearn picked former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) because he can bring back the form he enjoyed during his five-year run as a world champion from 2015 to 2020. The Matchroom promoter is trying to salvage Wilder, who some feel is over-the-hill and beyond refurbishing.

Unfortunately, Wilder’s career has plummeted since 2020. He has lost three out of his last four fights and has looked woefully poor.

He can still punch when he lands cleanly, as we saw in his first-round knockout victory over Robert Helenius in October 2022. Still, he looked mentally gunshy in his last fight, losing to Joseph Parker by a 12-round decision last December.

Zhang’s Early Threat and Hearn’s Prediction

The southpaw Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) is going to be dangerous for Wilder early on, looking to connect with one of his left hands to take advantage of his weak chin. Tyson Fury knocked out Wilder twice with slapping punches, showing that the Alabama natives’ mandible isn’t up to the mark any longer.

“Someone is getting knocked out in that fight. It’s not going the distance. I’m just edging for Zhang,” said Carl Frampton to Boxing News, picking Zhilei Zhang to defeat Deontay Wilder on Saturday.

“‘Big Bang’ Zhang to do the business. He’s got to do the business, both of them. They’re at the crossroads. That’s what’s so good about that fight,” said promoter Frank Warren. “They both know they’ve got to win. They both got to bring their best.”

A loss for either of the fighters could be the end of them. Zhang, 40, and Wilder, 38, are too old to come back from consecutive defeats. Wilder’s situation is more dire because it would be his fourth defeat in his last five fights.

That’s too many defeats in a short period for him to return, and it’s even worse that a non-puncher like Fury knocked him out twice. Granted, Fury used rabbit punches to score the knockout in their second fight, but he was connecting with slapping shots in their trilogy match too stop him.

“They’ve got to bring their A-game, nothing less than that, because whoever loses, he’s dropped right down that pecking order,” said Warren.

“What goes down is maybe we even come from behind to win the tournament because that’s my captain’s pick,” said promoter Eddie Hearn about Deontay Wilder being his Matchroom Boxing team captain. “That’s my double bubble.”

Hearn has got to be at least a little bit doubtful about whether Wilder can get the job done because if he had 100% belief, he’d be talking about wanting to sign him to his Matchroom stable and match him up against Anthony Joshua. He doesn’t say anything about signing Wilder or matching him against AJ. That suggests that he has doubts about whether he’s going to defeat Zhang.

“If he knocks him out, we get four points and that could win the whole thing. It’s a great fight, and it could go either way. I back Deontay Wilder to win that fight by knockout,” said Hearn.

“Both guys have the potential to knock each other out. Zhang is dangerous in the first half of the fight,” said Joseph Parker about the Wilder vs. Zhang fight. “I feel that from that fight, Zhang now was working on his conditioning, and Wilder, it’ll be important for him to utilize his footwork and place Zhang wherever he wants to land his big shots.”

Wilder has talked about wanting to fight aggressively against Zhang, but once he gets in the ring with him and feels his power, he’ll fight scared like he did in his loss to Parker, and hope that he can catch him with a shot at some point.

“I would have to go with Wilder. I feel like Wilder after that loss, both guys have stepped up their training, and focus and motivation. I feel like Zhang, as his activity lessens as the fight goes on, he’ll be a sitting target,” said Parker.

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