Wilder-Zhang, Stevenson-Harutyunyan Eyed For The Summer

Boxing fans could be in for a treat this summer with Deontay Wilder vs. Zhilei Zhang and Shakur Stevenson vs. Artem Harutyunyan close to being made.

Wilder, the former WBC Heavyweight Champion, has returned to training with eyes on Zhang for June 1. Reports indicate the pair are close to agreeing a deal to fight on the Dmitry Bivol vs. Artur Beterbiev card. Wilder is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Joseph Parker. The Bronze Bomber was criticized for failing to attack Parker, who outfought his opponent.

The defeat ended hopes of an Anthony Joshua fight, which was agreed upon provided Wilder beat Parker. Wilder blamed his extensive travels for his poor performance, while his trainer, Malik Scott, put it down to the boxer’s Ayahuasca usage. Wilder knows he must be on his A-game. The following clip shows Wilder working on his jab, followed by the right hand. Both weapons were missing in the Parker loss, which will be vital to beat Zhang. 

Zhang is also looking to bounce back from his defeat to Parker. The southpaw sent Parker to the canvas on two occasions. However, Parker won the majority of the rounds, taking a decision on the cards. Zhang lost his WBO Interim Heavyweight belt, preventing him from being the mandatory for the winner of Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk. With Wilder and Zhang capable of stopping their opponents, the fight is evenly poised. 

Shakur’s Future

Shakur’s Top Rank deal has only one fight left, leaving him open to offers, as per Bob Arum. Top Rank has guided Stevenson’s career to becoming a three-weight world champion. Titles at featherweight, super featherweight, and lightweight have made Shakur one of boxing’s best talents.

While he is a purist boxer’s dream, Shakur’s style is difficult to sell to the casuals. His 21-0 record only includes ten knockouts, and he is coming off a poor performance against Edwin De Los Santos. Despite getting the win to grab the WBC Lightweight Title, Shakur was booed for his defensive style. 

He had a hand injury coming into the fight, but that did not win him any sympathy. Fights against Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis are a longshot, as Shakur’s style does not make the matchups financially viable. Stevenson targeted William Zepeda, who called him out after beating Maxi Hughes. Oscar De La Hoya ruled that out, leaving Stevenson to possibly face Artem Harutyunyan on July 6 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Artem is not the biggest name, and now Shakur could leave Top Rank. 

“Shakur is fighting on July 6th in New Jersey at the Prudential Center. We’ll announce the opponent relatively shortly, and we had a great run with Shakur. He’s an incredible fighter with incredible skills, but our contract is over with the July 6th fight. Hopefully, we’ll maintain our relationship with Shakur and continue that, but he’s a free agent after the July 6th fight. So, we’ll see how that all plays out. The guys at the office told me that who they selected for Shakur is a really good fighter,” Arum said 

Stevenson could sign with PBC to secure a Tank Davis fight. Leonard Ellerbe remained coy about signing Shakur, but PBC does like to match its fighters against each other. An alternative is to sign with DAZN. Fights against Haney and Subriel Matias are available. Both men hold world titles at 140, with Haney’s WBC and Matias’ IBF belts on the line. 

If that fails, Stevenson could stay with Top Rank. He could box the winner of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. George Kambosos Jr, who both are with Top Rank. They fight for the vacant IBF Lightweight Title in May. If Shakur wants to move up to 140, he could also box Teofimo Lopez for his WBO belt. Either way, Shakur’s next step is vital if he wants the biggest fights. 

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