This Saturday’s DAZN PPV main event between Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang is truly a winner-moves-on and loser-go-home scenario. Both fighters are clearly on a downslide in their respective careers. Both fighters recently lost to Joseph Parker. Zhang did show more spunk, scoring two knockdowns. This pair of boxers will have us on the edge of our seats, wondering when the night-ending punch will land. That said, the styles may also produce a very slow fight while we wait for the spark.

Wilder, in his last outing back in December, admitted he couldn’t pull the trigger when the openings were presented. The question remains: will he ever be able to pull the trigger on the contender level? Now, of course, we must add context to what occurred in the ring. There was no doubt about it: Wilder did not have his timing and looked sluggish, missing badly with his punches. The ‘Bronze Bomber’ had fought less than one round in a span of more than two years. Another troubling item is Wilder saying he will retire if he loses, which gives off one foot in, one foot out vibes.

Regardless, boxing has a way of exposing the truth inside the ropes, so if too much rust was the main reason, we should get a sharper Wilder. One thing that is undeniable is that Deontay took a lot of punishment in those Tyson Fury fights. His punch resistance, like Fury’s, seems to be in decline. They say the last thing to go is a boxer’s power, and there are plenty of examples throughout the history of the sport. Wilder didn’t take a ton of damage versus Parker and reportedly went into the gym to work on getting his timing back.

Last year, Zhilei Zhang stopped Joe Joyce not once but twice and was on top of the world. Many saw him as a dark horse to make even more noise in the division. Zhang refused to do enough follow-up attacks when he had Joseph Parker on the canvas in rounds 3 and 8. Probably because he didn’t want to gas out and figured he would just catch Parker with more damaging shots. As we know, Zhang is very dangerous in the first part of the bout, but as the rounds go on, he becomes less and less of a threat to knock out his opponent.

This fight will come down to who is the more washed combatant. If Wilder can stay upright for 6 or 7 rounds, his chances of winning this fight will vastly improve. Of course, with the power Wilder possesses in his right hand, he could end the fight at any time. So, if it’s true that the long time out of the ring was the main reason for the poor performance against Parker, this boxing podcaster would favor Wilder by ko. The reality is that Deontay can have that power, but he needs to be able to deliver it accurately.

From a technical aspect, Zhang has the advantage. Because Zhang at least shows way more life versus Parker, it’s difficult not to side with him to defeat Wilder on Saturday. As far as a betting angle, there are plus numbers available whether we’re talking stoppages or going the distance. If this fight happened with both men in their prime, this boxing junkie would pick Wilder. +1000 for Wilder by decision is still worth a flyer. Hopefully, we get an entertaining scrap filled with ebbs and flows.

My Official Prediction is Zhilei Zhang by Decision. (Possible late TKO)

Side Note: I can’t wait for Raymond Ford vs. Nick Bell. It will come down to how Ford’s body handles the weight. Hrgovic vs. Dubois, Sheeraz vs. Williams, and Hutchinson vs. Richards, along with Dmitry Bivol vs. Malik Zinad, fill out the rest of the PPV card. My Picks: Ford MD, Hrgovic UD, Sheeraz KO, and Hutchinson UD.

Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

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