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Deontay Wilder targets violent knockout against Zhilei Zhang with Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk still in his sights

Deontay Wilder believes he will fight Tyson Fury for a fourth time in his career, while trainer Malik Scott suggests a fight with Anthony Joshua is still on the table; watch Fury vs Usyk live on Sky Sports Box Office on May 18

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A masked Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang were unveiled as opponents at the press conference for the undercard of Artur Beterbiev versus Dmitry Bivol

Deontay Wilder is plotting an explosive knockout victory over Zhilei Zhang as he looks for the statement performance he believes would propel him back into world heavyweight title contention. 

The former WBC heavyweight champion is seeking to climb back up the heavyweight pecking order after enduring a setback defeat at the hands of an inspired Joseph Parker in Saudi Arabia in December.

His loss to Parker seemingly scuppered plans to face former unified world champion Anthony Joshua, whose emphatic stoppage victories over Robert Helenius, Otto Wallin and former UFC heavyweight ruler Francis Ngannou have left him knocking on the door of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk once more.

Wilder fights Zhang on June 1 in Riyadh knowing a return of his destructive knockout power could throw him back among the world's leading heavyweights.

Riydah, Saudi Arabia: Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker Weigh In ahead of their Heavyweight Contest tomorrow night..22 December 2023.Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.  . Deontay Wilder.

"I'm expecting his A plus plus game, I like Zhang, I like him as a fighter and what he presents inside the ring," Wilder told Sky Sports.

"Especially for the first half of a fight he seems like a true killer and somebody who is going to come and has nice technique and movement.

"Eventually he burns out and that might be the end of him dealing with a fighter like me, I can go. I like him, I like the fight, I love that he's a hard hitter, I am as well and may the best man win."

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Wilder says he has adopted a new-found selfishness in a bid to redirect his career having admittedly lost his passion and love for the sport amid a taxing few years that included his epic trilogy against Fury.

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Joseph Parker believes that 'inactivity' played a big part in his shock win over American heavyweight Deontay Wilder.

"There was a time when all that died for me, when you don't have that in a business like this it's not good," he explained. "Not for the fighter or the business. I had to readjust, get myself together.

"I've been selfless all my life, catering to other people, making other people have a wonderful life, been able to support and help so many people off my blood, sweat and tears.

"As fighters we make this money off true blood, sweat and tears and to be where I am right now, to know I've done so much greatness, now it's all about me. I call it being selfish and sometimes it's okay to be selfish.

"At this point in time, for me to get that hunger and desire back, to give people The Bronze Bomber who they so miss now, I've got to be selfish."

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American heavyweight Deontay Wilder apologised to his fans in an Instagram video after his shock defeat to Joseph Parker.

Wilder looked a shade of his usual self in his last outing against Parker, with his lack of activity across a two-year absence from the ring showing as he was beaten by unanimous decision against the New Zealander.

Nonetheless, the 38-year-old remains confident of renewing an old and all-too-familiar rivalry should he overcome Zhang.

"I do believe I will face Tyson Fury for a fourth time," he explained.

Fury is scheduled to face Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship in Saudi Arabia on May 18, and while Wilder remains admittedly 'on the fence' when it comes to a prediction he believes the Ukrainian would favour his own fighting style.

"The easier night of the two would probably be Oleksandr, I've never fought him before," he said. "Styles make fights, we've never fought each other so we don't know each other, it would be different.

"Fighting somebody you've never fought before, you don't know what surprises might happen. But at the end of the day I respect all fighters who step over that rope, they risk their lives for others."

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Watch all angles of Anthony Joshua's incredible knockout punch which ended his fight with Francis Ngannou.

Scott: AJ fight still on the table

Wilder's trainer Malik Scott has backed his fighter to reassert himself among the likes of Fury, Usyk and Joshua, but insists he must stop Zhang in style if he is to have any chance.

"It's really do or die now, he has to get this done and in his position he can't get it done just any way, he has to get it done in a violent manner," Scott told Sky Sports.

"The whole camp is going to be purely bad intentions, we're going to be smart about it at the same time because we respect our opponent.

"June 1 is the first step back towards that (Championship fights) and June 1 isn't just any kind of way, it has to be done in a violent manner.

"I believe in him more than ever, I believe there's so much to his game and attributes people haven't seen yet. I believe on June 1 you'll see everything I brag about and everything I teach."

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Pope Francis blesses the WBC heavyweight belt that will be on the line when Tyson Fury faces Oleksandr Usyk in their upcoming fight live on Sky Sports Box Office on May 18.

Scott reiterated the suggestion that a knockout win over Zhang in June would resurrect the possibility of a heavy-hitting duel against a rejuvenated Joshua.

"It's right back there," he said. "That's where heavyweight boxing is great because you do that and you're right back in the mix."

Joshua isn't the only option, either. Wilder is also yet to face Usyk in his career, Scott insisting a meeting with the former cruiserweight champion is always in their sights.

Again, though, he was keen to stress the size of the task that awaits in Zhang, who impressed in back-to-back stoppage victories over Joe Joyce before flooring Parker in his eventual defeat earlier this year.

"I can see him knocking Usyk out cold," added Scott. "He is a smaller man, Deontay fights southpaws well, the line up is right there for him to be knocked out.

"It's about Deontay staying focused, having tonnes of humility and being defensively responsible and doing it the right way. If he follows those rules to me he's unbeatable, it's when he gets away from those things when he's susceptible to being beat.

"I wish it ran as parallel as I wanted to, but that's another big fight, Usyk is always on the table, AJ is still on the table, Fury, it's big time boxing so he's in a good position.

"I'm expecting the Deontay Wilder I know he is."

Joshua's next move is yet to be confirmed as the 34-year-old weighs up his options, one of which could be fight for the IBF world title should it be vacated in the wake of Fury and Usyk's first meeting.

Wilder's manager Shelley Finkel joined Scott in refusing to rule out a Joshua fight, but also insists Zhang will not be overlooked.

"I don't know what Joshua is doing next but if he prevails it will be the next thing," said Finkel.

"I don't want to look too far forward, we have a formidable task ahead of us in Zhang, he is formidable against anybody and we've got to get through that. I think he will."

Watch Fury vs Usyk live on Sky Sports Box Office on May 18.

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