Home Boxing News Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang added to Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim undercard

Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang added to Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim undercard

Zhilei Zhang
Zhilei Zhang (R) punches Glenn Thomas during their heavyweight fight at the Barclays Center on June 6, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (June 5, 2015 - Source: Ed Mulholland/Getty Images North America)

Undefeated Chinese heavyweight Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 22-0 (17) will make a quick return to action when he takes on Jerry Forrest 26-4 (20) over 10 rounds at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on February 27 on the undercard of the WBC and WBA super middleweight title defence of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 54-1-2 (36) against mandatory contender Avni Yildirim 21-2 (12).

The 37-year-old US-based southpaw stopped Devin Vargas in four rounds in their clash in Hollywood, Florida in November on the undercard of the Devin Haney vs Yuriorkis Gamboa clash.

“I’m very excited about this fight,” said Zhang. “February 27 is the highest profile card of the first quarter of 2021 and it will be an honour to be part of it.

“I can’t wait to get in the ring and wish the best of luck to my opponent Jerry Forrest. I am training full force. I will be ready.”

Forrest, 32, is also a southpaw and took former world title challenger Carlos Takam the 10-round distance in his last bout in Las Vegas last July.

“Zhang is a good fighter with great size and technique, but I’ll be ready for this fight,” said Forrest.

“2021 is a new beginning for me. Covid has made training difficult with many gyms shut down, but I’ve stayed in shape since my last fight.

“I’m now up at my manager’s gym in Ashburn, Virginia, and my trainers have been creating a game plan while bringing in sparring partners to match Zhang’s size and style.

“I’m excited about this opportunity and am looking forward to ending Zhang’s unbeaten streak.”

The main support bout to Alvarez-Yildirim will be WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez 17-1 (13) making the third defence of his championship against three-time world title challenger McWilliams Arroyo 20-4 (15).

“This is a stacked undercard in support of the pound-for-pound king,” said promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.

“Julio Cesar Martinez is fast becoming a must-see attraction in the sport and an impressive win here will take him to another level – but McWilliams Arroyo is up for the challenge and is a dangerman.

“Zhilei Zhang can stake his claim for a massive fight at heavyweight later in the year with victory over Jerry Forrest and it is fantastic for the young talents on the card to be able to perform on this huge stage.”

A host of young talent will also get the chance to shine on the card, led by super middleweight Diego Pacheco 10-0 (8) who will take on Rodolfo Gomez Jr 14-4-1 (10) over eight rounds.

“I am excited to be back under the bright lights,” the 19-year-old Pacheco said. “2021, it’s time to show everyone I’m here and I’m a problem for anyone at 168-pounds.”

Also at super middleweight Alexis Espino 6-0 (4) will meet Ashton Sykes 5-3 (1).

“I am more than ready to fight on this amazing card and show what I been working on aside from the time I spent away,” the 21-year-old Espino said.

“It was a frustrating time for me at the end of 2020, but I am itching to finally show how much work I have been putting into this since I haven’t been in the ring due to recent cancellations.”

Former amateur sensation Marc Castro got his pro career off to the perfect start on Canelo’s undercard in San Antonio with a KO win and the Fresno star goes again in Miami against Lester Brown 4-2-3 (1).

“I am ready to get back in the ring and I want thank God and my team for making it possible for being a part of the pound-for-pound king Canelo’s undercard once again,” the 21-year-old super featherweight said.

Another successful amateur making his second appearance in the paid ranks is Miami’s own Aaron Aponte 1-0 (1).

“I’m super excited to be fighting at the Hard Rock Stadium on February 27 on the undercard of boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez,” said the 19-year-old Aponte.

“It’s an honour to fight on such a massive event in my hometown and I’m very grateful to Matchroom and DAZN along with my manager Peter Kahn and the Fight Game Advisors Team for this opportunity. Stay tuned for the rise of Aaron ‘Alien King’ Aponte!”