Boxing: Ryad Merhy retains his world championship belt


The Belgian was defending his world cruiserweight title for the first time. He knocked out his opponent in the eighth round at the King Baudouin Stadium.

Ryad Merhy is the first Belgian to become world boxing champion. However, he won his belt in early 2021 without fighting. The former title holder, Kazakhstan’s Beibut Shumenov, had refused to fight for too many months. This led the WBA (World Boxing Association), one of the four major boxing federations, to crown the Belgian boxer who had been waiting for his opportunity as the number one challenger.

The new cruiserweight (under 90.719 kg) world champion was then given the opportunity to defend his title in the ring. And not just anywhere, as he took on the Chinese boxer, Zhaoxin Zhang, at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels.

The Brussels-born boxer showed that he deserved his belt. Ryad Merhy showed all his determination against the Chinese giant. Quickly attacked by powerful blows from the very first exchange, his opponent found himself pinned against the ropes. In the third round, using a left-right combination, Ryad Merhy hit the Chinese boxer who fell to the ground for the first time. The fight then lost some intensity before a devastating left hook from the Belgian boxer put Zhaoxin Zhang down for good in the eighth round.

Aged 28, Ryad Merhy therefore retains his WBA cruiserweight belt and continues to write one of the greatest success stories in the history of the noble art in Belgium.