Deontay Wilder knocked out by Zhilei Zhang as Queensberry dominates Matchroom

Deontay Wilder was knocked out by Zhilei Zhang in the fifth round on Saturday as Queensberry dominated Matchroom in a unique team-based event in Saudi Arabia.

The innovative format saw Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren each choose their representatives across five matchups, with Wilder the former’s appointed man and Hamzah Sheeraz his Queensberry counterpart.

Fighters were awarded one point for a decision win, two points for a knockout or a technical knockout and zero points for a draw, with the captains’ points worth double.

Wilder and Zhang both looked tentative to start the bout, but – in the clash of heavy hitters – Zhang struck first.

A heavy blow caught the American in the second round, but Zhang was unable to land a decisive follow-up strike.

Wilder was clearly rattled however, and it took just three more rounds for Zhang to land the winning combo, spinning the Bronze Bomber with a heavy right and following up as Wilder stumbled towards the corner.

The result capped off a 10-0 whitewash for Queensberry, who were first on the scoreboard when Scottish light heavyweight Willy Hutchinson claimed a unanimous decision victory over Craig Richards.

After the early rounds, Hutchinson looked to have the slightest advantage, and while Richards began to turn the tide, it was too little, too late, with the scores reading 116-112, 117-111, and 119-109.

Ball kept the Queensberry momentum going, securing a split-decision victory and the WBA world featherweight title in a thrilling battle with Raymond Ford that, throughout the 12 rounds, looked like it could go either opponent’s way.

And while the first judge ruled 115-113 in favour of the more measured Ford, the tenacity of the Merseyside man prevailed as the next decisions were given his way by the same score.

With the score 2-0 in favour of Frank Warren’s stable, pressure was piled on Matchroom’s Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams, particularly with Queensberry skipper Hamzah Sheeraz also eligible for double points in their middleweight battle.

Sheeraz claimed his 14th straight stoppage victory in the division in the 11th round of a classy contest.

After gradually breaking down his opponent, the Ilford fighter dropped Williams with seconds remaining in the 10th round before executing an excellent combination to make it 6-0 overall on the night for Queensberry – enough to ensure the best Matchroom could accomplish would be a draw.

That opportunity was fleeting, however, as Queensberry’s Daniel Dubois stopped Filip Hrgovic in the eighth round with a dominant performance.

The meeting was earlier this week confirmed by the IBF to be an ‘interim’ heavyweight title bout.

The decision means that, for now, Oleksandr Usyk remains the undisputed heavyweight champion, with a contracted rematch against Tyson Fury scheduled for December.

Though Hrgovic is the long-time mandatory challenger for the IBF title, Usyk has requested an exemption, according to reports, so the Fury sequel would again be an undisputed showdown.

Dubois could still be upgraded should a decision be taken to strip Usyk of the title before that bout or should the Ukrainian vacate the belt.

Hearn previously predicted the winner of Dubois-Hrgovic could be the one to take on Anthony Joshua at Wembley in September, though it may become a less appealing prospect should the IBF title not be on the line.

Dmitry Bivol was initially set to fight Artur Beterbiev in a heavily-anticipated undisputed fight until it was announced last month that the latter had ruptured his meniscus during training.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, has said he expects the rescheduled encounter to take place “later this year”.

Instead, Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) took on Malik Zinad (22-0,16 KOs) for the former’s WBA and IBO light heavyweight titles in a bout separate from the 5v5 competition.

Bivol ultimately secured his first stoppage win in 10 fights against Zinad, keeping the bout against Beterbiev on the cards.

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