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Dmitry Bivol Will Remain On June 1 Riyadh Show, He Will Defend The WBA Title Against Malik Zinad

Dmitry Bivol in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Malik Zinad will fight for his first title, one fight ahead of schedule.

A ring confirmed that the 30-year-old undefeated fighter has been selected to challenge WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. The 12-round bout takes place on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Zinad (22-0, 16 knockouts) replaces Artur Beterbiev (20-0, 20 knockouts), who was supposed to face Bivol in a rematch. Beterbiev, The Ring's No. 1-rated light heavyweight, suffered a meniscus tear, and was forced to retire.

Messages left with representatives of Bivol, Zinad and event host Turki Alalshikh were not returned as of publication. However, A ring found out that a deal was quickly made with GOAT MGT founder Nomaan Ali, Zinad's manager. A quick call to action allowed Bivol to stay on the show, as first reported by's Mike Coppinger.

Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) will no longer command the main event spot, though it's not important in the grand scheme of things. Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) and Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) will now take the first action. Their heavyweight belt reinforces the Matchroom Boxing vs. Queensberry Promotions 5-vs.-5.

Bivol will try his 11th to defend the WBA light heavyweight title. He has held the full version since the November 2017 first round selection of Trent Broadhurst.

He focused on Beterbiev's WBC, IBF and WBO crowns to become the first light heavyweight champion in more than 20 years. That dream has now been delayed until later this year.

Meanwhile, Zinad will do her part to put in an undisputed figure.

Being awarded the title for the first time marks a swift comeback for the Malta-based Libyan boxer. Zinad knocked out undefeated Jerome Pampellone in their IBF semi-final on April 24 in Sydney. Another win would put him in a mandatory position.

That route is no longer necessary, thanks to the collaborative efforts of his team.

Zinad's five-week turnaround is his shortest gap between fights since 2019. Ideally, it makes up for lost time; his victory over Pampellone ended his 13-month absence.

Bivol returns to the area holding his last title defense. Ring's The number 2 light heavyweight and 6 pound-for-pound fighter featured Lyndon Arthur last December 23 at the Kingdom Arena.

The rest of the program remains the same and will be broadcast live on DAZN Pay-Per-View. Beterbiev-Bivol was supposed to air separately on ESPN+. In addition to Bivol-Zinad and Wilder-Zhang, at least four other fights have been confirmed for the show.

Croatia's Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs), the No. 5 heavyweight, will face former WBA 'Regular' Daniel Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs). As previously reported by A ring, Hrgovic-Dubois could win the IBF heavyweight title at stake. It will depend on the outcome of the May 18 Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Fury non-contest. The winner is expected to immediately vacate the IBF belt instead of a mandatory title defense against Hrgovic.

WBA 126-pound Titlist Raymond Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) will defend his belt against Nick Ball (19-0-1, 11 KOs). Ford is No. 7 at 126, and Ball is The Ring's No. 1 contender. 4-rated contender.

Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KOs) and Austin 'Ammo' Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) meet in a pairing of undefeated middleweights. London's Craig Richards (18-3-1, 11 KOs) and Scotland's Willy Hutchinson (17-1, 13 KOs) squared off in a light heavyweight bout.

Wilder is the team captain in the Matchroom squad which includes Hrgovic, Ford, Williams and Richards.

Sheeraz leads the Queensberry team, which is also represented by Zhang, Dubois, Ball and Hutchinson.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Follow @JakeNDaBox


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