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Team Queensberry Demolishes Team Matchroom Through “Clean Sweep”, Zhang Ends Wilder’s Career With KO Win, Dubois Defeats Hrgovic To Become IBF Interim Champion

Team Queensberry Demolishes Team Matchroom Through Clean Sweep featured image
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - JUNE 01: Frank Warren, Founder of Queensbury Promotions, and Eddie Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport, shake hands following the 5v5: Queensberry v Matchroom Fight Night card at Kingdom Arena on June 01, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Last Saturday’s [June 1st] promotional battle between Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promoters and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing proved to be a successful event that set up the possibility for more promotional battles in the future. The card saw the two promotions pit five handpicked fighters against each other at the Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia, but it was Queensberry who came out on top by a milestone, winning every single match-up with several of its fighters netting a knockout or stoppage. Additionally, Dmitry Bivol showed another side of himself as he finally tallied a stoppage win against Malik Zinad after years of going without a KO.

The 5 vs. 5 event will be remembered for all the matches proving that competitiveness can make for exciting fight cards and should become the norm for boxing matches. The standard boxing rules were followed, though the event also saw additional rules implemented with each team set to win 1 point if their fighter won by decision, 2 points in case of a knockout or stoppage and the points of a winning fighter would be doubled for their team if they had been designated as a team captain.

The first match was a light-heavyweight title bout between Queensberry fighter Willy Hutchinson (18-1, 13 KO’s) and Matchroom fighter Craig Richards (18-4-1, 11 KO’s)―both British―for the vacant WBC Silver title. Hutchinson, who was arguably lesser known than Richards, virtually steamrolled through his opponent with his Mike Tyson-esque approach, eventually winning by unanimous decision (UD) handily through scorecards of 117-111, 116-112 and 119-109. Team Queensberry received an early headstart by going 1-0 with the score.

The second match took place between British Queensberry fighter Nick Ball (20-0-1, 11 KO’s) and American Matchroom fighter Raymond Ford (15-1-1, 8 KO’s) who put his WBA title featherweight title on the line. The bout between the two was extremely close, but it was Ball who came out on top after Ford failed to stop the smaller fighter from continuously pressuring and chasing him; with Ford ramping up activity halfway into the match in a futile attempt after letting the earlier rounds slip by him.

As a result, Ball was announced the winner by split-decision (SD) with both him and Ford receiving scores of 115-113 before the last judge resulted in Ball to becoming the new WBA featherweight champion by handing the last score of 115-113 to Nick Ball and giving Team Queensberry a 2-0 lead in their battle against Team Matchroom.

At middleweight, British Queensberry fighter Hamzah Sheeraz (20-0, 16 KO’s) faced off against American Matchroom fighter Austin “Ammo” Williams (16-1, 11 KO’s). With Sheeraz being the team captain, his points were set to double if he were to win.

The two were involved in a close match but at the start with both fighters seemingly splitting the earlier rounds. However, it was Sheeraz who ended up dominating halfway mostly through his heavy and accurate jab to which Williams could find no answer to. Gradually, Williams saw himself get broken down as the jab started affecting his sight, giving Sheeraz more success as the match went on and resulting in Sheeraz knocking Williams down in the 10th round. The fight conclude when the British fighter stopped Williams in the 11th round to give Queensberry a 6-0 lead over Matchroom. Sheeraz also retained his WBC Silver middleweight title in the process.

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RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – JUNE 1: Hamzah Sheeraz ( White shorts ) and Austin Williams ( Red and Gold shorts ) box during their Middleweight Contest on June 1, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing/Getty Images)

The subsequent light-heavyweight title bout between Russian WBA 175 lbs champion Dmitry Bivol (23-0, 17 KO’s) and Libyan Malik Zinad (22-1, 16 KO’s) was not a part of the 5 vs. 5 event but was no less entertaining. Zinad showed flashes of potential during his first-ever world title fight against Bivol, having come in as a substitute to replace Artur Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KO’s), but ultimately was outmatched by Bivol who showed a killer instinct unseen in the past couple of years.

Bivol, taking on a front foot approach, took 6 rounds to finish Zinad, stopping the Libyan fighter in the 6th round to retain his unbeaten record and WBA title and break his KO drought that had lasted for roughly 6 years.

A heavyweight title bout between Croatian IBF interim champion Filip Hrgovic (17-1, 14 KO’s) and British contender Daniel Dubois (21-2, 20 KO’s) was Team Matchroom’s last chance to attempt to even the score if Hrgovic were to win against Queensberry fighter Dubois―with Matchroom team captain Deontay Wilder having also been required to win by knockout or stoppage to be able to put the score between the two promotions at 6-6.

However, Dubois prevented closed out the promotional contest by stopping Hrgovic in the 8th round of the bout to put Team Queensberry ahead by 8-0 and resulting in Matchroom losing the first inaugural promotional battle in boxing by a clean sweep. While both Dubois and Hrgovic were evenly-matched, it was Dubois who pushed the pace to grab a victory, pressuring Hrgovic with the intent to stop him. Hrgovic found some success with his counters but seemed to struggle with stamina later on, allowing Dubois to capitalize and eventually stop him in the 8th round.

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RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – JUNE 1: Daniel Dubois ( black shorts) hits Filip Hrgovic (white shorts) with a right during their IBF Interim World Heavyweight Contesr on June 1, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing/Getty Images)

The non-title main event between Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (27-2-1, 22 KO’s) and American former world champion Deontay Wilder (43-4-1, 42 KO’s) was no longer a part of the 5 vs. 5 event with Team Queensberry having clearly won its battle against Matchroom.

Both heavyweights, known for being one of the least-throwing heavyweights in the sport, took some time to get going and few punches were thrown in the earlier rounds. This changed around the 3rd round, with Zhang stepping up his offensive while Wilder also retaliated. Zhang appeared to have more impact, coming in almost 70 lbs heavier than Wilder at the official weigh-ins, cornering Wilder continuously who saw his signature right hands do little to no damage to Zhang.

In the 4th round, Zhang was finding success, and though the Chinese southpaw did not throw a record number of punches, Wilder was forced on the backfoot where he had no actual gameplan ready and did not counter or throw enough punches of his own to halt the threat of Zhang’s attacks. By the 5th round, Zhang took control and a right hand from the southpaw resulted in knockdown for Zhang that Wilder managed to get up from.

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RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – JUNE 1: Zhilei Zhang (Gold shorts) and Deontay Wilder (Black shorts) box during their Heavyweight contest on June 1, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing/Getty Images)

Sensing blood, Zhang continued his onslaught and managed to land a grazing right hand that caused an odd moment as Wilder spun around to turn his back while neglecting to put his hands up to defend himself. Capitalizing, Zhang took full advantage of Wilder once he had partially turned around, and Wilder―having put up no defense of any kind―was hit full frontal by Zhang’s right hook, resulting in him falling down hard to the canvas.

While Wilder barely managed to get up to beat the count of 10, the referee stopped the match after seeing Wilder was too disoriented to continue to compete, allowing Zhang to win by technical knockout (TKO).

Overall, the event encapsulated the importance of putting up competitive bouts; a trend made possible mainly through General Entertainment Authority (GEA) chairman Turki Alalshikh which has also purportedly allowed the fighters to be better compensated than normal. Such events also contribute to the competitive environment of the sport overall, ensuring that boxing’s greatest talents can profit off their hard work in multiple ways.

Lastly, Queensberry Promotions [led by chairman Frank Warren], and Matchroom Boxing [led by chairman Eddie Hearn] have both played a pivotal role in establishing a new format in the sport through their promotional battle, setting up the possibility for similar cards to be produced between promotions or even countries.