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Resurgent Daniel Dubois offers Anthony Joshua a tasty Deontay Wilder alternative

Resurgent Daniel Dubois offers Anthony Joshua a tasty Deontay Wilder alternative
Daniel Dubois (right) leaves his mark on Filip Hrgovic - Getty Images/Mark Robinson

Daniel Dubois produced a stirring career-best performance to rout Croatian Filip Hrgovic and position himself as an opponent for Anthony Joshua on the blockbuster card at Wembley Stadium scheduled for September 21 or 28. Meanwhile the career of former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder looks all but finished after the faded Alabaman suffered a brutal fifth round knock out by China’s Zhilei Zhang.

Dubois, though, the resurgent 26-year-old who had been labelled as ‘a quitter’ earlier in his career, took a huge step towards heavyweight world title contention after stopping IBF mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in the eighth round of a brutal fight of bludgeoning dimension from both protagonists, from the off.

“I’ve heard the next opponent will be AJ, so bring it on,” said Dubois afterwards, with Joshua ringside beside His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, the Minister from the Saudi Arabia government which is investing heavily in the sport.

Filip Hrgovic's face was badly beaten up following his fight with Dubois
Filip Hrgovic's face was badly beaten up following his fight with Dubois - Getty Images/Mark Robinson
Daniel Dubois after defeating Hrgovic
Daniel Dubois after defeating Hrgovic - Mark Robinson/Getty Images Europe

“I’m anxious to become the best, this is my era and my time,” added Dubois. “I’m glad I’ve got this IBF belt and on to the next.”

Promoter Frank Warren - who won the unprecedented team event 10-0 on points over rival promoter Eddie Hearn in a novel ‘5 versus 5’ team event, indeed disclosed that Joshua-Dubois could be on the cards at Wembley Stadium in fifteen weeks time.

That is expected to be confirmed at a press conference in London in just over three weeks time.

But it was referee John Latham who took action just under a minute into the eighth round on the ringside physician’s advice, with the Croatian bleeding heavily from cuts, seemingly out on his feet in the seventh round as Dubois summoned hell from his fists, after earlier assaults and skirmishes won by Hrgovic.

“I ate those shots and they just woke me up,” Dubois reflected. “Then I was on it. It was like, ‘Don’t wait, don’t wait.’”

The end of Wilder, however, gun shy, haunted and driven into the corners by Zhang, patiently and methodically butchering the ex-champion, made for difficult viewing.

Zhilei Zhang KOs Deontay Wilder to complete Queensberry clean sweep over Matchroom
Zhilei Zhang (left) delivers a knockout blow to Deontay Wilder - Getty Images/Mark Robinson

Five one-sided rounds and it is doubtful we shall see Wilder again after those two right hooks ended a decorated career. The American, representing Hearn’s Matchroom team against Warren’s Queensberry, has now lost his fourth fight in five outings, and appears to be a shell of the destructive force who produced 42 knockouts from his 43 victories.

Zhang hunted his prey viciously, and as Malik Scott, Wilder’s trainer, urged the 38-year-old to launch his right hand - the Alabaman barely pulled the trigger for his lethal weapon in the first four stanzas - Wilder opened up his attacks, allowing the 20st, 41-year-old Chinese fighter to catch his foe with a right hook, spin his victim around and then sprint four paces to finish a bewildered Wilder who was almost facing away when the final act came.

Mercifully, there was no second opportunity as the ‘Bronze Bomber’ was counted out. Wilder had hinted at “the final goodbye, the farewell” coming into this contest, if he lost. This was about as comprehensive a showing that the fight has left him.

Elsewhere on the Queensberry vs Matchroom 5v5 event, here in Saudi Arabia, Liverpudlian Nick Ball defeated American Ray Ford by split decision, 115-113 twice and 113-115, to claim the WBA featherweight crown, highly-touted rising middleweight contender Hamzah Sheeraz closed out a fine 10th-round stoppage victory dismantling US rival Austin Williams, after being caught and hurt in the second round, staying undefeated with twelve stoppages in sixteen outings, with the prospect of facing Chris Eubank Jr on the Joshua undercard at Wembley Stadium in September.

The Telegraph understands that talks are underway for Sheeraz-Eubank, which is an enticing match-up. Warren’s light-heavyweight Willy Hutchinson, a former amateur world champion, tore up the underdog tag against far more experienced Craig Richards to claim a fine points victory, the Hall of Fame promoter taking a clean sweep 5-0 in the inaugural ‘5 vs 5’ event, which was the brainchild of Saudi Minister Alalshikh.

Also on the card, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, who was scheduled to meet WBC, WBO and IBF 175-pound champion Artur Beterbiev in a clash of undefeated champions, stopped replacement Malik Zinad in the sixth round with trademark efficiency. Bivol is now expected to face Beterbiev in October here in Saudi Arabia.


Zhang knocks out Wilder, Dubois wins by stoppage: As it happened


01:49 AM BST

Zhang reacts

I would like to thank every friend who came here over the world and fans in China, it is midnight there and you are watching me. I lost to [Joseph] Parker, it was a fair loss. He was the better man that night. I’ve learned since then. As long as the bell doesn’t ring, stay focussed.

I have to pretend Wilder didn’t have a right hand and I successfully took it away. Wilder punches hard, I give him a lot of respect.


01:43 AM BST

Is this the last time in the ring for Wilder?


01:36 AM BST

‘It is doubtful we shall see Wilder again’

The end of Deontay Wilder, gun shy, haunted and driven into the corner by Zhang patiently and methodically.

Five one-sided rounds and it is doubtful we shall see Wilder again after those two right hooks ended a decorated career.

Zhilei Zhang KOs Deontay Wilder to complete Queensberry clean sweep over Matchroom
Deontay Wilder of Team Matchroom is knocked down by Zhilei Zhang - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

01:29 AM BST

Round 5 - Zhang wins by KO

Wilder comes to life. Now he is throwing that right hand and Zhang looks unsettled.

WOW

Huge right hook by Zhang stunds Wilder, who spins around. Wilder is dazed and that gives Zhang a clean shot with a right that puts down Wilder. Wilder gets back on his feet but the referee rightly calls off the fight. Zhang wins by KO.

Queensberry wins 10-0. A clean sweep.


01:23 AM BST

Round 4

Slower round from Zhang which has allowed Wilder to come into the fight a little bit. Joshua in the front row looks a little bored.

But it could all change with one punch...


01:19 AM BST

Round 3

Wilder’s corner tells him not to be a ‘punching bag’. They can see what’s happening at the moment. Wilder looks to be a shadow of himself. He looks fearful of Zhang, who continues to apply pressure.

The size of Zhang is causing a lot of problems for Wilder. We continue to wait for Wilder to throw his right hand and connect.


01:15 AM BST

Round 2

Zhang on the attack. Wilder is stuck in the corner and Zhang is landing some major blows. The American escapes but looks shaken by that. Wilder is on the back foot and unable to take control. He seems unwilling to throw his right hand with any venom.

No such concerns for Zhang, who is swinging freely and fighting with confidence.


01:12 AM BST

Round 1

63 knockouts between the two fighters in their careers. Zhang is taking the early initiative, pushing Wilder back. But neither fight has landed a clean punch after the first 90 seconds.

Much more defence from the fighters in this one compared to the last fight. Nothing to separate them in a cagey start.


01:04 AM BST

Here we go... it’s the main event of the evening

Wilder says retirement is on the cards if he loses tonight. He is facing a very dangerous opponent in Zhang.


12:59 AM BST

Dubois reacts

I have full respect for the guy, he was a good fighter. It was a learning curve for me. I’ve got the IBF belt, now for the next.

I was a bit cold to start with, I heard the advice from Frank Warren and my dad and went for it.

I felt a few shots, woke up and then I was on it. I’m anxious to become the best. This is my future, my time and time to come through the best.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates after Dubois stuns Hrgovic
Daniel Dubois of Team Queensberry poses with his title belt - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

12:56 AM BST

The final fight of the night...

... Wilder vs Zhang. The winner here will also put themselves in contention to face Joshua later this year.


12:54 AM BST

‘It looks like Anthony Joshua now at Wembley Stadium for Dubois’

Deep victory - courage, power - for Dubois and it looks like Anthony Joshua now at Wembley Stadium. Showed his finishing skills, and now 26, a young heavyweight still, it could be huge at Wembley - depending on what happens in the last fight of the night...

Warren 8-0.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates after Dubois stuns Hrgovic
Referee John Latham raises the arm of Daniel Dubois of Team Queensberry to announce him as winner over Filip Hrgovic of Team Matchroom - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

12:48 AM BST

Dubois vs Joshua?

That is the talk now after that performance from Dubois. That was a real statement to the heavyweight division. He has been around for a long time but he is still only 26-years-old.


12:39 AM BST

Round 8 - Dubois wins by stoppage

Hrgovic is very much on the backfoot and trying to defend. Dubois continues to hammer away. Hrgovic can’t see these right hands coming. Doctor is taking a look at Hrgovic’s cut and he calls off the fight.

DUBOIS WINS. QUEENSBERRY 8 MATCHROOM 0.

Warren is $3 million better off. As if he needed more money.


12:36 AM BST

Round 7

Would not be surprised if a knockout comes in the next three rounds. Hrgovic is now nursing cuts to both eyes. Dubois has done a number on his face. Big blows by Dubois rock Hrgovic. He is looking for the finish. Huge right hand by Dubois with 50 seconds to go. Hrgovic is struggling but still standing. Bang. Another shot from Dubois to end the round. Hrgovic is saved by the bell. He is in a bad way.

If Dubois keeps his head in the next round, he should finish this.


12:31 AM BST

Round 6

Hrgovic is looking shattered out there and we haven’t reached the half way stage yet. Neither fighter is working the body of their opponent. All focus on head shots. A head clash between the two when they get in close. Dubois’ footwork has been very impressive tonight. Less action packed round there.


12:28 AM BST

‘A titanic battle’

This is a titanic battle between Dubois and Hrgovic. Both have landed heavy shots and after 5 rounds it is now a battle of will not so much skill.

I don’t see this going 12....


12:27 AM BST

Round 5

A reminder that Team Matchroom needs a stoppage from Hrgovic but that’s not looking likely at this stage as Dubois takes the initiative again. Hrgovic is given a telling off for a punch to the back of Dubois’ head. Naughty.

Dubois still full of energy and power. Double jab from Hrgovic towards Dubois. That was a nice finish.


12:23 AM BST

Round 4

Dubois pins Hrgovic into the corner but the latter is able to sneak away. Hrgovic is a slippery customer. Big jab by Dubois. Again Hrgovic takes it. Blood is pouring out from Hrgovic’s right eye. It must be hampering his eyesight. Work to do for the cut man as the bell is rung.


12:19 AM BST

Round 3

Dubois applying pressure early here. He is being aggressive and busy, but will he tire out quicker? Hrgovic not as involved in this round. He’s got a cut which he is managing. When he does throw a punch, he continues to land. But Dubois is taking them all.


12:16 AM BST

Round 2

Both men right back it again. Neither men is using any defence as they take turns landing shots on each other. Another right from Hrgovic pushes Dubois back. Dubois comes straight back with a right left combo of his own. Shocked that no one has gone down yet. Big left jab by Dubois is absorbed easily by Hrgovic. He barely flinched. Another even round.


12:11 AM BST

Round 1

Decent start by Dubois but a right cross by Hrgovic catches his man. Both fighters are really going for it. Landing one-two combinations. Hrgovic is not missing with his right hand but Dubois is standing strong so far. This is just the first round. It won’t go to twelve on this evidence. Hrgovic looking smooth and composed. One last jab by Dubois to end a high quality round from both fighters.


12:04 AM BST

Michael Buffer is here

You know the night has reached the big moment as the legendary MC comes out to announce the arrivals of Hrgovic and Dubois.

Matchroom needs a knockout here to give them hope of drawing the battle of promoters.


11:53 PM BST

Coming up next...

An interim IBF title fight Daniel Dubois (Queensberry) vs Filip Hrgovic (Matchroom).


11:44 PM BST

Bivol TKO win

Classy finish by the WBA champion. He senses an opening and takes it. A right hand over the top followed by back-to-back rapid lefts, stuns Zinad.

As Zinad is pushed toward the ropes, he takes a barrage of shots and the referee Howard Foster steps in to save him.

First victory of Hearn but unfortunately for him it doesn’t count towards the scoreline.


11:36 PM BST

Square up after the bell

Bivol and Zinad are chirping at each other at the end of the fourth round. Zinad was taunting his opponent, who took exception.


11:25 PM BST

Our boxing expert with the big names in Riyadh


11:22 PM BST

Next up...

... a slight deviation from the 5v5 lineup.

Tonight’s card was originally due to have a light-heavyweight fight between  IBF, WBC and WBO champion Artur Beterbiev and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol but an injury to the former has led to him being replaced late by Malik Zinad.


11:13 PM BST

Sheeraz reacts

I knew what I was going into, he’s a puncher fresh and young. I knew it wouldn’t be a wipe out victory. We thought we’d break him down in close. I used by jab but I had to slow him down.

I was throwing the uppercut but the corner was saying right hook, right hook, I knew the pace I set, I don’t normally set it but I had to in this one.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Hamzah Sheeraz of Team Queensberry poses for a photo with Frank Warren, founder of Queensbury Promotions - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

10:59 PM BST

‘Merciful call by the referee’

Very impressive stoppage for Hamzah Sheeraz, heavy punching great shot selection and breaking Ammo Williams down to earn another TKO. Merciful call by the referee.

World middleweight champion-in-waiting. Warren 6-0 (2 pts for the captain) in the team sport here


10:51 PM BST

Good call by the referee

Replays show that was a good decision by the referee to stop the fight before Williams took another heavy blow.

He had taken some serious punishment. There was a rueful shake of the head by Hearn as his man was beaten.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Hamzah Sheeraz of Team Queensberry punches Austin Williams of Team Matchroom - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

10:50 PM BST

Sheeraz stoppage win

Brutal end by Sheeraz as he unleashes a flurry of punches at Williams, who has no reply and the referee stops the fight.

That makes it Queensberry 6 Matchroom 0.


10:47 PM BST

Williams in trouble

Down go Williams at the end of round 10. Big right hook by Sheeraz and Williams takes the count but is saved by the bell.


10:35 PM BST

A reminder...

.... that if Sheeraz wins this fight, it is two points for Queensberry because he is the captain.

And right now, through seven rounds, he looks on course to do it.


10:26 PM BST

Interesting scorecards from a great fight


10:21 PM BST

‘Brilliant third round by Sheeraz’

Brilliant third round by Sheeraz after being caught by the dangerous left hand of Williams in the second. Williams coming apart in that third round. If Sheeraz keeps this up, I can see a knockout coming for him.

Williams needs to come back hard, but it may just open him up for the British fighter’s trademark power. Looking for his 12th Ko in his 16th fight.

4-0 to Warren if he wins, too, as it’s two points for the captain.


10:10 PM BST

Fight three is underway

Hamzah Sheeraz (Queensberry) vs Austin Williams (Matchroom) has begun.

Eddie Hearn’s stable badly needs a result here...


10:08 PM BST

Our boxing expert with an exclusive


10:06 PM BST

Ball reacts

I’m made up. I should be two-time [champion] but it’s not the case. I’m the champ now so it doesn’t really matter. My style is all action and putting pressure on and I did that well. It paid off.

This is boxing, you’re going to get hit. It’s how you recover and come back, that’s a true champion and that’s what I am now. He’s a tough man and a class boxer. I had to dig deep to get the belt.”

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5 live: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Nick Ball poses for a photo with Frank Warren - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

09:52 PM BST

Our boxing expert on the history between Hearn and Warren


09:40 PM BST

Ball and Queensberry win

To the scorecard, a split decison:

Ford 115-113, Ball 115-113, Ball 115-113

Ball is the new WBA world featherweight champion!


09:35 PM BST

Breathless final round

Ball finishing as he started - in attack mode. But Ford hits back with a lovely uppercut with 90 seconds to go.

Who won? I can’t call it. Both men on the ropes celebrating. We will find out very soon!

Fantastic gutsy fight by both men. Judges may be split on this ... depends on whose work they favour. Strong final rounds from Ford.

But will Ball’s early work be enough to take the world title. I have it Ball 115-113.


09:30 PM BST

Into the final round...

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5 live: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Nick Ball punches Raymond Ford with his left hand - Getty Images /Richard Pelham

09:23 PM BST

Man Utd’s No 1 is in Riyadh


09:19 PM BST

Ball closing in on the title

If there isn’t a knockout or stoppage here, I’d be very surprised. Ball is relentlessly attacking Ford but the latter is landing some clean blows which have shaken the former.

Four rounds to go!


09:11 PM BST

‘Ball is being tenacious and smothering Ford’

Ball should be a world champion coming into this contest. He clearly defeated Ray Vargas here last time out. With two knockdowns and dominance in the last six rounds.

Ball is being tenacious here and smothering Ford, who is looking to counter. Ball’s busier work rate could count in the later rounds. I picked Ford to edge this (we have been asked to give picks here all week in these 50/50 fights) but Liverpool’s Ball will not be denied right now. Outhuslting Ford. After 5 rounds, Ball 4-1 for me.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Nick Ball of Team Queensberry punches Raymond Ford of Team Matchroom - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

09:02 PM BST

‘Ball forcing the pace’

Like the look of Nick Ball in these early 3 rounds. Forcing the pace against Ford which he has to do...


09:01 PM BST

Cut for Ball

Ball is applying a lot of pressure early on but Ford is weathering the storm and one of his blows has done some damage to the man from Liverpool.


08:50 PM BST

Fight two underway between Nick Ball vs Raymond Ford


08:39 PM BST

Hutchinson reacts

This is boxing, everything is dicey, the training is dicey, the fighting is dicey, the diet is dicey. Craig Richards is a hell of a fighter. I’m 25, what haven’t I got going for me? I’m handsome and got everything going for me.

Look at me, look at the fight. No disrespect, I’m young, hungry and got everything going for me. I’ve got my second belt and I’m ready to take over the world. It was a very tough fight, fair play to Richards but it is a win, move on.

I’ve been through something, if people heard my story. I’m very grateful for my team, they are not coaches they are like family to me. I think Frank Warren for not losing faith in me when everyone else did.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Willy Hutchinson celebrates victory over Craig Richards - Getty Images /Richard Pelham

08:26 PM BST

Hutchinson and Queensberry win

Scoreboards: 116 - 112, 117 - 111, 119 - 109

By unanimous decision.... Hutchinson

Brilliant stylish performance by underdog Willy Hutchinson. Had him winning 116-112. Clever switching and beat Richards to the punch.

Frank Warren 1-0 Eddie Hearn. First upset of the evening...


08:19 PM BST

All over in fight one

And I think Hutchinson has done enough to see out the late rally from Richards to win the fight and give Queensberry their first points of the night.


08:12 PM BST

Incredible 10th round

Both fighters trade huge blows. They are both exhausted after landing big shots on each other.

Richards was rocked and held on for dear life before turning the tables on Hutchinson.

Six minutes to go...


08:10 PM BST

AJ has arrived


08:04 PM BST

Richards fighting back

After a slow start, Richards has taken control and Hutchinson is now on the back foot.

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Craig Richards lands a blow on Willy Hutchinson - Getty Images /Richard Pelham

07:57 PM BST

How the competition will be decided


07:47 PM BST

Hutchinson in control

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Willy Hutchinson of Team Queensberry (right) and Craig Richards of Team Matchroom exchange punches - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

07:39 PM BST

Who is fighting for Team Queensberry and Team Matchroom?

Team Queensberry

  • Zhilei Zhang, heavyweight

  • Daniel Dubois, heavyweight

  • Nick Ball, featherweight

  • Hamzah Sheeraz, middleweight

  • Willy Hutchinson, light heavyweight

Team Matchroom

  • Deontay Wilder, heavyweight

  • Filip Hrgovic, heavyweight

  • Raymond Ford, featherweight

  • Austin Williams, middleweight

  • Craig Richards, light heavyweight


07:32 PM BST

Here we go!

The first fight of the night is underway between light-heavyweights Craig Richards and Willy Hutchinson.

Hearn and Warren are sitting side by side courtside.


07:30 PM BST

Captain Sheeraz

Team Queensberry’s skipper on the night...

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Hamzah Sheeraz of Team Queensberry - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

07:26 PM BST

Captain Wilder

Team Matchroom’s leader on the night...

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5v5: Wilder-Zhang fight updates and full undercard
Deontay Wilder takes on China's Zhilei Zhang - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

07:13 PM BST

The order of play in Riyadh


07:01 PM BST

Warren vs Hearn in Saudi Arabia

Good evening and welcome to coverage of a huge night in boxing as the stables of Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn go head to head in a 5v5 showdown in Saudi Arabia.

It is Team Queensberry vs Team Matchroom with the two rival promotion companies battling it out for the bragging rights. The biggest names from each company – Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua – are not involved tonight but there is still plenty of action to come.

The headline fight is Deontay Wilder against Zhilei Zhang, while Daniel Dubois will take on Filip Hrgovic aiming to become the mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s IBF world title by claiming the ‘interim’ belt.

“I’m very confident in what I’ve been stating,” Wilder said at the final press conference in Riyadh. “I’m very excited to be working alongside Eddie, we haven’t had the best of relationships in the past, but the thing about time is time brings about changes and I’ve been a part of changes. At this period in time, we’re like a warrior’s drum, with one beat and one sound, and on this left side [with his four teammates in the 5 x 5 event] you can feel this energy that we’re not playing no games. We come to win and we come to knock them out. The five on five, we’re going on a five-man sweep and I’m looking forward to Saturday night.”

There is a solidarity between Warren and Hearn going into this event, as the boxing promoters do what they do best and sell the event.

“Frank and I had never spoken or been in the same room until we came to the first press conference together,” explained Hearn. “My respect for him has grown, and he’s also great company.”

“The rivalry works, the promotion works, and we have discovered something here that is ultimately for the benefit of all of us – the fighters, the fans and the promoters,” Warren added. “But it is no joke that we are taking this very seriously indeed. I’ve never been involved in a team event like this, and the camaraderie is phenomenal.”

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