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Wilder embraces 'gym rat' role for Zhang fight

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Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was expected to have a clear path for 2024 following a win over Joseph Parker on December 23 last year.

Nevertheless, the New Zealander defied expectations and outperformed Wilder, who needed the victory to set up a bout with his long-time rival, Anthony Joshua.

Parker's defeat compelled Wilder, now 38, to reconsider his strategy—a challenging task at his age.

Undaunted, Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) is set to face Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) on June 1 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the highly anticipated Matchroom vs. Queensberry event, with Wilder representing the former.

Prior to his loss to Parker, inactivity had been an issue for Wilder. In an interview with Fighthub TV, Wilder acknowledged that this lack of activity impacted his performance, ultimately preventing him from unleashing his signature right hand.

“I could say a lot of things, but I don’t want to make excuses because even when you’re truthful about certain things, people say it’s excuses,” Wilder told Fighthub TV.

"One of the things that went wrong was the inactivity. I was out for two years. I didn’t even notice I was out that long because of certain things that I was doing. I just couldn’t pull the trigger when it was time to. So a different time, a different moment.”

After his defeat to Parker, Wilder was visibly frustrated and acknowledged the need to reevaluate his future. However, he reignited his passion shortly after his December loss by returning to the gym.

“I became a gym rat again. I became a gym rat, and then I found the love back. I found the fire back. I put more fuel to my fire, and I’m re-lit now,” Wilder said, discussing his journey to rediscovering his love for the sport.

Against Zhang, Wilder is prepared to take a measured approach, not rushing for a quick knockout while respecting his opponent's capabilities.

“I like that he [Zhang] brings power, and he has a nice hook and different things like that.

He looks very confident in what he does inside the ring, and I think it’s going to bring an exciting fight come Saturday night,” said Wilder regarding his upcoming bout with Zhang on June 1.

“I don’t want people to think I’m just looking for one punch. I want to go in. I want to give a great fight. I want to come in, set him up with jabs, hooks, and then the big bang and knock Zhang out.”

Source: boxingscene

The opinions shared in the GymNation blog articles are solely those of the respective authors and may not represent the perspectives of GymNation or any member of the GymNation team.