Deontay Wilder says he has rediscovered his passion for boxing after confronting struggles in and out of the ring.

Wilder meets Zhilei Zhang in Saudi Arabia on June 1 as part of the Matchroom vs. Queensberry Promotions 5v5 event and the former long-reigning WBC heavyweight champion admits the contest with Zhang is make-or-break for his career.

Wilder is 43-3-1 (42 KOs) and the 38-year-old is coming off a wide loss to Joseph Parker in December. 

He makes up part of Eddie Hearn’s team as a ‘Wildcard’ selection, because each promotional stable was allowed to use one fighter not contracted to them. 

“I feel good,” Wilder said. “No one thought me and Eddie would work together, so this is the ultimate surprise right here.” 

Then, talking about the Saudi Arabia influence in boxing, Wilder said: “They’ve rearranged and changed the way boxing is done and I’m looking for that acting career after, you don’t have to get hit.”

That was a nod to the elaborate Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels-type trailer to promote the show which was filmed in Bulgaria several weeks ago. 

“I respect Zhang, he’s a good fighter, but it’s my time,” Wilder added. 

“I’m breaking it down and come the night of the fight we will see if I’ve still got it or not. I’m seeing this as my last stand…”

Wilder revealed that he had lost his love, passion and hunger for the sport, but added: “Here I am, I’m not playing around this time. I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose this time, only to gain.

“I mean business, I can feel the desire and sensation in my heart is coming back. You’ll see what I’m talking about.” 

Zhang, 26-2-1 (21 KOs), 40 years old and also coming off a loss to Parker, did not have quite as much to say, but he clearly has respect for the heavy-handed American.

“Deontay Wilder is the heaviest puncher in boxing. I have to be careful but when the opportunity shows itself, I will not hold back,” he said.