Matchroom vs Queensberry 5 vs 5: Predictions for matchups

Matchroom vs Queensberry 5 vs 5: Predictions for matchups


Deontay Wilder vs Zhilei Zhang will likely be the headline fight of the Matchroom vs Queensberry 5 vs 5 competition on June 1 in Saudi Arabia, with promoters and Saudi organizer Turki Alalshikh choosing the divisions for the fights today.

Queensberry’s Frank Warren chose the heavyweight and middleweight divisions, while Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn chose featherweight and light heavyweight.

Turki Alalshikh chose a second heavyweight fight to round out the format, with that sort of defeating the purpose on-paper, as well as the fact that Alalshikh’s matchup can see the companies represented by any heavyweight, not just someone under company contract.

That fight, then, seems to obviously be the Wilder vs Zhang fight. Zhang has been fighting for Queensberry lately, but has fought for Matchroom in the past. Wilder has no history with either company directly, and the representation seems like it could go either way.

The show will be headlined by the undisputed light heavyweight championship fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, which is not part of the 5 vs 5 competition.

What will the other fights be?

Promoters get to pick representatives from their in-house stables.

The two heavyweight fights

So we’re 99.9 percent sure the “wild card” heavyweight fight chosen by Alalshikh is Deontay Wilder vs Zhilei Zhang, with which side those guys fight for a bit more up in the air.

As we’ve talked about already, Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KO) is coming off of the worst performance of his career in defeat to Joseph Parker, while Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KO) is also coming off of a loss to Parker. But it’s a big fight and while it might absolutely stink if Wilder just doesn’t throw punches again, it has the intrigue of arguably the division’s two biggest hitters going head-to-head.

Day of Reckoning: Fight Night

Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images

The other heavyweight bout, the one chosen by Warren, seems almost certain to be Daniel Dubois (Queensberry) vs Filip Hrgovic (Matchroom). Like Wilder vs Zhang, that fight has already been reported as happening on the card.

You might wonder why Hrgovic and his mandatory title shot he’s been waiting for forever would take a risk like Dubois (20-2, 19 KO) when he could just sit and wait, but the economics and politics of the heavyweight division in particular are changing rapidly with the Saudis essentially controlling the entire thing.

There is also a chance, of course, that the IBF — the only one of the four major sanctioning bodies that even pretends to follow its rules — may strip the Fury vs Usyk winner for quite obviously not intending to fight Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KO), and that two weeks after we crown an undisputed heavyweight champion, we will no longer have one. Hrgovic vs Dubois could wind up a vacant IBF title fight.


Warren’s other choice is middleweight. It’s worth noting that both Hearn and Warren kept saying the word “domestic,” meaning British fighters, as both are of course British promoters. “Domestic” British fights happening in Saudi Arabia is funny, but it is a new reality as the two of them are keen to ride the wave of Saudi money as long as they possibly can; it’s enough to get two guys who all but refused to work together for years to laugh and joke at a press conference as if they’ve been pals for decades.

But Hearn has a chance to throw an American in here, as he could choose Austin “Ammo” Williams to represent Matchroom in a potentially excellent “rising star” matchup with Queesnberry’s Hamzah Sheeraz. The 24-year-old Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KO) and 27-year-old Williams (16-0, 11 KO) would be a terrific matchup.

Lesser Alternative: A rematch between Matchroom’s Felix Cash and Queensberry’s Denzel Bentley. Cash had the best night of his career blitzing Bentley inside of three rounds back in 2021, and all but disappeared from the conversation after. Bentley’s coming off of an upset loss to Nathan Heaney. Cash has not been reliable of late, but he could be in the conversation here as a “make or break” moment for him and Matchroom.

Alternate Lesser Alternative: A prospect matchup between Queensberry’s James Heneghan (10-0, 1 KO) and either Mark Dickinson (6-0, 2 KO) or George Liddard (9-1, 1 KO) from Matchroom. This really doesn’t seem to meet the desired level of the show, but “things change” from on-paper to reality in boxing, so you have to be prepared.

Light Heavyweight

175 has some options, but there are only a couple of matchups that seem to fit the bill for the level this contest is supposedly meant to be, and both involve Anthony Yarde repping Queensberry.

Yarde has stated his desire to face Joshua Buatsi next, and Buatsi is a Boxxer fighter now. But I think Yarde will get the call here for Queensberry, and the Buatsi vs Yarde fight simply won’t happen.

Expect Yarde to face Matchroom’s Craig Richards. Richards (18-3-1, 11 KO) has lost his last two relevant fights, but Hearn and Matchroom may see an advantageous style matchup with the crafty Richards against Yarde (25-3, 24 KO), who did show some new technical and tactical wrinkles in his last outing. Callum Smith, coming off of a brutal loss to Artur Beterbiev in January, could represent Matchroom, but Richards seems the more likely pick.

Lesser Alternative: A prospect matchup between Queensberry’s Karol Itauma (12-1, 7 KO) and Matchroom’s John Hedges (9-0, 3 KO).


Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We could see a world title bout with this one, and I don’t think Hearn would have chosen the division if he didn’t believe that’s what he’d be bringing to the table.

Raymond Ford just won the WBA title on March 2 on a Top Rank card, stopping Otabek Kholmatov in the 12th round. Ford (15-0-1, 8 KO) said after the fight that he may have to go up to 130, but he’s still got the belt and all that, and realistically, the bigger money for him is staying at 126 if at all possible and keeping this belt.

One problem here is that nobody in the Queensberry stable is currently ranked in the top 15 by the WBA. But that can change, and it could change quite reasonably if the insertion is Nick Ball, who just had a controversial draw with WBC titleholder Rey Vargas.

Ball was really only not in the WBA rankings — which are a joke, like all sanctioning body rankings — because he was a WBC mandatory challenger and fighting for their belt. Putting Ball in ahead of the star-studded likes of Dominique Jamar Francis and Arnold Khegai would not register on the laughable sanctioning body ranking decision scale. Mauricio Lara is still in the WBA top 15 and he doesn’t even fight in the division anymore, and Stephen Fulton Jr is No. 3 despite having no relevant fights in the division.

Ball (19-0-1, 11 KO) is desperate for another title shot and Warren is desperate to get him one. This would be a solution, and also a good matchup. Ball is also very entertaining to watch.

Lesser Alternative: Matchroom’s Hopey Price (12-0, 5 KO) taking on Queensberry’s Nathaniel Collins (14-0, 7 KO), who holds the British and Commonwealth titles.


Source link

Learn More →