Home Boxing News Zhilei Zhang ready for world title shot, but won’t sit around waiting...

Zhilei Zhang ready for world title shot, but won’t sit around waiting for opportunity

Zhilei Zhang. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Heavyweight contender Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-1-1 (21) is on the verge of a world title shot with WBA, WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) the likely target.

The Chinese southpaw is coming off a fine performance in his rematch against Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce 15-2 (14) at Wembley Arena in London, England on Saturday night, stopping him with a single right hook late in the third round.

The victory consolidated his position as the leading contender in the WBO to Ukrainian southpaw Usyk’s unified throne.

Usyk, 36, is expected to defend his belts against IBF mandatory Filip Hrgovic 16-0 (13) next, but Zhang’s team believes talks are underway behind the scenes for Usyk to face WBC champion Tyson Fury 33-0-1 (24) instead.

Whichever way it plays out, Zhang’s co-manager Terry Lane has made it clear all they want is big fights from here on out.

“We would love to fight Fury, but I do believe they are trying to make Fury vs Usyk next,” Lane told Sky Sports.

“We’ve got to see in a few weeks if they make that fight. If not, we’re not going to sit back and wait. There’s other names like [Deontay] Wilder out there, so it’s just really hard to say, but I do think after last night, there’s Usyk, Fury and Zhilei and then everyone else [in the heavyweight division.]

“But Zhilei is 40-years-old, he wants to fight big names and guys like Wilder are out there and we’re just going to have to see what happens.”

In his first fight against Joyce in April, Zhang used his left cross to great effect, landing it repeatedly to the head of the 38-year-old Brit to the point that the fight was stopped in the sixth after his right eye was so badly swollen he was deemed unable to continue.

The rematch saw Zhang change up his attack, setting up the knockout punch with a left to the body before the right hook came over the top.

Lane says this was part of their strategy going in to the fight.

“We were going to bring down the guard [of Joyce],” Lane told Boxing Social. “We knew he was going to move to his left. We had spies on him in Las Vegas. We knew that was all they were working on.”

The only thing that surprised Team Zhang was Joyce’s weight. In the lead up to the fight he revealed he was planning to come in heavier than the 256-pounds he weighed for their first bout, but many people were shocked when he scaled 281-pounds for the rematch.

“If you’re moving to your left but you gain 25 pounds, that’s not really gonna—you’re not gonna turn into Muhammad Ali in there,” Lane said. “Listen, we were prepared for all that. Nothing was a surprise tonight.

“We were shocked at how heavy he was.”