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Matchroom vs. Queensberry 5-on-5 Weight Classes Confirmed For June 1

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Four weight divisions will span the first entrant in the Matchroom vs. Queensberry 5-on-5 series.

Eddie Hearn and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren met with Saudi royal court advisor Turki Alalshikh on Sunday to confirm the weights for the long-discussed tournament. Five fights will land on the June 1 Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol undercard in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The trio released a video on the YouTube channels for Matchroom Boxing and Queensberry Promotions on Sunday.

Hearn and Warren were afforded two picks each; the fifth was reserved for Alalshikh.

Warren was granted the first selection and chose heavyweight.

“The weight. Heavyweight division,” Warren revealed. “We’re very strong, Queensberry’s very strong in the heavyweight division and we always have been. We’ve got the best heavyweight in the world in the lineal champion [Tyson Fury]. It won’t be him, though. But we have a great, great roster of heavyweight rosters and it will be one of them.”

It could very well be two of them. Alalshikh also went with boxing’s most storied division.

“Of course, it’s the heavyweights,” stated Alalshikh. “They know I love the heavyweights.”

A disclaimer was offered by the Saudi advisor that raised the stakes for this series. Either promoter—or both—can add a fighter to their current roster, to participate in the tournament.

The distinction opens up the possibility of two heavyweight fights previously reported by The Ring to be part of this event. Filip Hrgovic-Daniel Dubois and Deontay Wilder-Zhilei Zhang are both targeted, once finalized, are expected to land on this show.

London’s Dubois (20-2, 19 knockouts) and China’s Zhang (26-2-1, 19 KOs), No. 4 at heavyweight, are both under the Queensberry banner.

Croatia’s Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs), No. 5 at heavyweight, and The Ring’s No.9-rated Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) are promotional free agents but both could temporarily represent Matchroom. Hrgovic was previously in a co-promotional agreement with Matchroom but exited the deal prior to his last win in December.

Queensberry also went with the middleweight division for its other choice.

“Traditionally, the British middleweight division has been the division,” noted Warren. “So, we’re gonna go with middleweight.”

The Ring has learned Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KOs) and Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) could meet in this matchup. England’s Sheeraz—dubbed by YouTube legend Richard Dwyer as the next Thomas Hearns—is with Queensberry. Williams, No. 10 at 160, is with Matchroom and long ago agreed to the fight.

Matchroom’s first choice was the least surprising revelation from the nearly nine-minute recorded session. Hearn selected featherweight and will almost certainly select WBA titlist Ray Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs).

“We’re going with the slightly smaller boys, and going with featherweight,” stated Hearn. “We historically have had a number of champions at featherweight and I believe we’re very strong in the 126-pound division.”

It is widely believed that Ford, No. 7 at 126, will defend his title versus The Ring’s No. 4-rated Nick Ball (19-0-1, 11 KOs). The matchup was teased as a potential unification bout had Ball dethroned WBC titlist Rey Vargas (36-1-1, 22 KOs). The two instead fought to a draw on March 8 in Riyadh, but Ford still offered to move forward with the fight.

The second and last remaining weight division chosen by Matchroom was light heavyweight.

“Another fantastic division for British boxing, we’re gonna role the dice on the 175-pound division,” stated Hearn. “We’re really hoping for a terrific domestic matchup.”

Matchroom’s 175-pound roster includes Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), No. 5 at 175, Craig Richards, John Hedges and Khalil Coe. The company also co-promotes Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs), No. 1 at 175, who of course headlines the show.

Queensberry’s most prominent light heavyweight is two-time title challenger Anthony Yarde (25-3, 24 KOs). However, The Ring No. 4-rated 175-pound contender is rumored to next face Joshua Buatsi (18-0, 13 KOs), No. 3 at 175 and, ironically, a former Matchroom fighter. Other Queensberry 175-pound fighters include Karol Ituama (12-1, 7 KOs), Willy Hutchinson (16-1, 13 KOs) and Ezra Taylor (8-0, 6 KOs).

The exact matchups are expected to be revealed at a press conference in London in the coming weeks.

Each group can designate a team captain, whose win will be worth two points for the team. A win in the remaining fights will be worth one point each.

Warren revealed a side bet among the stakes for the night.

“There’s a lot riding on this,” quipped Warren. “We have a big bet… and I’m gonna pick the restaurant.”

Alalshikh also mentioned the possibility of a September show at London’s famed Wembley Stadium. The idea behind the event is to serve as an introduction to the 2024 Riyadh Season.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America
Follow @JakeNDaBox

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