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Wilder-Zhang, Hrgovic-Dubois Tabbed For June 1 Beterbiev-Bivol Show in Riyadh


Deontay Wilder-Zhilei Zhang and Filip Hrgovic-Daniel Dubois Are in Play For June 1 Show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Heavyweights will remain a central theme under Turki Alalshikh’s watch, even in supporting capacity.

The Ring has learned that a pair of intriguing matchups in boxing’s most storied division are on tap for June 1 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Former WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder and China’s Zhilei Zhang are on course to meet in a pivotal crossroads bout. Also in store for the show, 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Filip Hrgovic will likely next face England’s Daniel Dubois.

Both bouts, once finalized, will take place on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Dmitry Bivol RING 175-pound championship.

Wilder-Zhang was first reported by ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger. The possibility of the Hrgovic-Dubois matchup was first officially revealed earlier this week by War A Week Radio podcast.

Riyadh has hosted the last fight for each of the four heavyweights.

Wilder (43-3-1, 42 knockouts) and Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) lost separate bouts to New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (35-3, 23 KOs), No. 3 at heavyweight, who is interestingly the odd man out given this fight. Wilder, No. 9 at heavyweight, dropped a lopsided decision to the former WBO titlist last December 23 on the loaded ‘Day of Reckoning’ show. Less than three months later, Parker survived two knockdowns to outpoint Zhang, No. 4 at heavyweight, over twelve rounds on March 8.

Parker openly expressed interest in an immediate rematch with Zhang given their contractual terms. However, Zhang will instead proceed with the man he originally intended to face earlier this month.

Event handlers targeted Wilder-Zhang for the March 8 Anthony Joshua-Francis Ngannou show. The Ring was not able to confirm why the fight didn’t happen at the time. In retrospect, the battle of big punchers is far more intriguing with both in need of a win.

Wilder is 38 and has not won since an Oct. 2022 first-round knockout of Robert Helenius. Zhang twice knocked out Joe Joyce in his 2023 campaign to earn and defend the interim WBO title. That belt is gone; so, too, is his place in the heavyweight championship sweepstakes. Parker is now a mandatory challenger to the May 18 Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Furyundisputed championship, also in Riyadh.

There remains doubt that the Usyk-Fury winner will retain all four sanctioning body titles for very long. That actually leads to a potential subplot to the second heavyweight fight in play.

Croatia’s Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs), No. 5 at heavyweight, has been the IBF mandatory since an August 2022 win over Zhang in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The battle of Olympic super heavyweights saw Hrgovic survive an opening round knockdown to win a questionable 12-round decision.

Just two fights have followed for Hrgovic, each ending inside the distance. The 6’6″ heavyweight stopped unbeaten Demsey McKean in the 12th round last August 12 in London. He then knocked out grossly overmatched Mark de Mori in the first round on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ undercard.

London’s Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs) resurrected his career on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ bill. The former secondary titlist bounced back from a knockout loss to Usyk with a tenth-round stoppage of unbeaten Jarrell Miller. Dubois stole the show, during fight week and especially in the ring.

Hrgovic and his team have pressured the IBF to enforce his mandatory position. He could get his shot to fight for the title in June, though a number of scenarios would have to fall into place for that to happen.

Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) is the Ring, WBA, IBF and WBO champ. England’s Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), No. 1 at heavyweight and a former two-time Ring champ, holds the WBC strap.

The IBF granted permission to Usyk to enter the first undisputed heavyweight championship of the 21st century. The status won’t last much longer beyond the winner’s hand raised that evening.

While Hrgovic is first in line for a crack at the title, there remains a process to name his official challenger. There also remains the chance that the full version of the title won’t be at stake in June.

Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs), No. 2 at heavyweight, is one named spot below Hrgovic in the current IBF heavyweight ratings. He is technically number-three, while the number two position is ‘Not Rated.’ The former two-time unified titlist is the frontrunner to land the Usyk-Fury winner. Alalshikh has been unapologetic in his desire to stage such a fight in The Kingdom.

Naturally, there has to be a winner on May 18 to move forward with that plan. From there, the IBF would have to execute an order that calls for said victor to immediately face Hrgovic or give up the title. Joshua would then have to decline an offer to challenge for the title. That would make room for Dubois to enter the equation as the number-four contender.

The Ring has learned that Hrgovic-Dubois is fully expected to move forward, regardless of the stakes.

Hrgovic already agreed to step aside to allow Usyk-Fury, which was previously due to take place on Feb. 17 in Riyadh. Fury suffered a severe cut during sparring, which postponed the fight by three full months. The delay increased the chances that the winner will not be in position to next challenge Hrgovic.

The postponement now provides the region with two undisputed and three Ring championships within a 14-day span.

Ring cruiserweight king Jai Opetaia (24-0, 19 KOs) meets former three-time titlist Mairis Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs), No. 1 at 200. The bout is a rematch to their July 2022 thriller, won by Opetaia to dethrone Briedis.

Headlining June 1, Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) and Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) meet in a battle of the best two light heavyweights in the world. All four major titles and the vacant RING championship will be at stake in the main event.

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

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