Dubois wins, Wilder stopped and Queensberry triumph in 5v5


Frank Warren celebrates with Daniel Dubois

Daniel Dubois is now mandatory challenger for the IBF world heavyweight title [Matchroom]

Britain’s Daniel Dubois won the interim IBF heavyweight title with a brilliant eighth-round stoppage of Filip Hrgovic to set up a potential bout with Anthony Joshua in September.

In a real slugfest in Saudi Arabia, Hrgovic, cut above both eyes, was inspected by the ringside doctor who advised the referee to halt the contest.

Dubois sealed a team victory for Frank Warren’s Queensberry in the five versus five team event against Matchroom.

“I’ve heard the next opponent will be AJ, so bring it on,” Dubois said, as compatriot Joshua watched on from ringside.

The 26-year-old is the mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s world title and will be upgraded to world champion status if the Ukrainian is ordered to vacate his IBF belt before a scheduled rematch with Tyson Fury in December.

In the main event in Riyadh, former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder suffered a possible career-ending fifth-round stoppage loss to Zhilei Zhang.

The American, once considered the most ferocious puncher in the division, looked a shadow of himself after beating the count but deemed in no fit state to continue.

Wilder was representing Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom, who lost 10-0 in the unprecedented team event against rival Warren.

‘I’m anxious to become the best’ – Dubois

Daniel Dubois throws punch at Filip HrgovicDaniel Dubois throws punch at Filip Hrgovic

Hrgovic suffered a first professional career defeat [Matchroom]

Queensberry fighters Willy Hutchinson, captain Hamzah Sheeraz and featherweight Nick Ball – who captured a maiden world title – contributed to three straight wins for Warren before Dubois made sure of the team victory.

The contest began at a frantic pace, with Dubois working well behind the jab, while Hrgovic landed several flush rights.

Trainer Don Charles’ instructions were drowned out by the voice of Dubois’ father who was imparting his own advice from the front row. A confused Dubois looked left and right, unsure who to listen to.

Despite the chaotic corner, Dubois was hell-bent on taking the fight to his opponent as both men landed with ease.

Hrgovic, 31, drew confidence from when the pair sparred seven years ago, but Dubois demonstrated how much he has come on since then.

He appeared seconds away from victory in the seventh after landing several heavy blows, sapping Hrgovic of any energy.

The writing was on the wall, however, as blood poured from cuts on Hrgovic’s eyes and there were no protests from him at the stoppage.

“I’m anxious to become the best – this is my future, my time and time to come through the best,” said Dubois, who scored his 20th stoppage in 21 wins.

Warren beams & the end for Wilder?

Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren shake handsEddie Hearn and Frank Warren shake hands

Warren (left) and Hearn had reportedly never met before they began working together last year [Matchroom]

Wilder, 38, was defeated by Joseph Parker in December and insisted he would hang up the gloves if he were to lose to 41-year-old Zhang.

After a tentative opener, Zhang began to walk Wilder down with the Alabama fighter throwing little back.

Wilder sprang into action in the fifth after being told by his corner to show more explosiveness, but seconds later he turned his back after Zhang landed a solid right hand.

As Wilder turned back towards his opponent, he was met with a more brutal right.

The sorry sight of the ‘Bronze Bomber’ – who left the ring without giving any post-fight interview – sprawled across the ring and using the rope to aid him back to his feet may just be the last time boxing fans see him in the ring.

Warren meanwhile ended the night with a beaming smile having got the better of Hearn in a family rivalry that dates back to the 1980s.

Matchroom and Queensberry had been at odds ever since Hearn’s father, Barry, began promoting boxing events in that decade.

From the very first fight onwards, Hearn and Warren bellowed instructions and encouragement from ringside. Hearn would jump out of his seat and Warren was seen banging the canvas.

The feud was repaired last year when energy-rich Saudi Arabian organisers convinced Hearn and Warren to bury the hatchet and work together, and there are already plans for more team events to take place in the near future.

“This is a formula for the future and we want to continue doing this,” Warren said as he shared a handshake with Hearn and took home the £2.3m ($3m) bonus .

More boxing from the BBC

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