Sources: Wilder-Zhang, Dubois-Hrgovic on tap

A pair of heavyweight clashes between four top-10 contenders are nearly done deals.

Hard-hitting Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang, No. 7 and No. 6 respectively in ESPN’s heavyweight rankings, are in the process of finalizing a deal for a June 1 clash in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sources told ESPN.

Additionally, Filip Hrgovic, ranked No. 5, and No. 9 Daniel Dubois, are also finalizing a deal to square off that evening, sources added.

The two heavyweight bouts are scheduled to take place on the undercard of the highly anticipated showdown between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

Wilder and Zhang will both enter the ring in desperate pursuit of a victory to remain relevant in boxing’s glamour division. Both fighters are reeling from decision losses to Joseph Parker in Riyadh. The former heavyweight titleholder pulled off a major upset in December with a wide-points win over the American that spoiled plans for a long-awaited matchup between Anthony Joshua and Wilder.

Joshua went on to brutally knock out Francis Ngannou instead, and on that undercard earlier this month, Parker scored another upset with a decision win over Zhang, who floored Parker twice in the bout but was otherwise outboxed.

Rather than take the usual boxing journey of comeback bouts, Wilder and Zhang will now head into a high-stakes bout that will position the winner for another marquee heavyweight bout. Two weeks earlier, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will vie for the undisputed heavyweight championship on May 18 in Riyadh.

Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) is one of the division’s all-time biggest punchers. But the fighter from Alabama has lost three of his past four bouts. Two of those losses came in the championship trilogy with Fury. Fury scored a seventh-round TKO in the 2020 rematch and then an 11th-round knockout the next year that was named ESPN’s Fight of the Year and KO of the Year.

Wilder is a former heavyweight champion who dropped Fury four times across three fights. He’s 38, and although an inch taller than Zhang, figures to concede close to 80 pounds to the much heavier Zhang. Wilder weighed 213 pounds in the loss to Parker.

Zhang, who will be 41 on fight night, is a southpaw puncher who is light on his feet considering his enormous size. The fighter from China is 6-foot-6 and weighed 291.5 pounds in the loss to Parker.

Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) broke out last year with a pair of stoppage victories over Joe Joyce.

Hrgovic’s biggest victory remains the win over Zhang, when he survived a knockdown in the opening round to prevail via controversial unanimous decision.

Croatia’s Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs) has competed twice since that August 2022 fight in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The 31-year-old scored a 12th-round TKO of Demsey McKean in August and followed up with a first-round TKO win vs. the overmatched Mark De Mori in December on the same undercard as Parker-Wilder.

England’s Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs) also competed on that undercard, a 10th-round TKO victory over Jarrell Miller that stands as the 26-year-old’s biggest win yet.

The fight was Dubois’ first since August, when he suffered a ninth-round KO loss to Usyk in a bid for the unified heavyweight championship in Wroclaw, Poland.

Dubois’ other professional loss came in 2020, a 10th-round KO defeat to Joyce.

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