Home Boxing News Joseph Parker reveals strategy for Zhilei Zhang fight

Joseph Parker reveals strategy for Zhilei Zhang fight

Joseph Parker. Photo credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Joseph Parker 34-3 (23) has revealed his game plan to defeat Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-1 (21) at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8.

Former WBO heavyweight champion Parker, 32, is coming off a bumper 2023 that saw him fight four times for four wins, culminating in his wide unanimous points decision victory over big hitting former WBC champion Deontay Wilder 43-3-1 (42) in December.

Chinese southpaw Zhang, 40, has emerged as one of the most dangerous men in the division following back-to-back knockout victories over fellow contender Joe Joyce 15-2 (14) last year. Britain’s Joyce, 38, knocked out Parker in the 11th round of their fight in September 2022.

The winner of Zhang-Parker will position themselves for a shot at the full WBO title at some stage down the track.

“Going into this fight, I have a lot better movement than Joe Joyce. I think with Zhang, it’s important to stick and move,” New Zealand’s Parker said to talkSPORT.

“With Zhang, he does tire in a lot of his fights. I’m not counting him tiring. I want the best Zhang and I want him for 12 rounds. I want to give him my best in this fight. So, stick and move and combinations and letting my hands go.”

If Parker does emerge victorious, he will have to face Zhang for a second time as there is a rematch clause built into the contract.

“Yeah, fight Zhang and win, and then fight him again at the end of the year,” Parker said. “Then win again, and I’ll be free to fight anyone else. I guess I see where they’re coming from.

“They’re trying to protect what Zhang has and they did the same thing when Zhang fought Joe Joyce.

“So I have to beat him twice in order to move on and fight for the championship of the world. I just want to get in there for the hardest fights and do the best that I can.

“There’s a lot of people in boxing with egos and they worry about A-side and B-side and who is going to walk first and who is going to walk second.”

Parker said he had no choice but to accept the rematch clause. He says it is simply the cost of doing business.

“It’s take the fight with the rematch clause, otherwise they would give it to someone else,” he said.

“It’s kind of like a cornered buck. I’m happy with the fight and I’m looking forward to it.”

Parker has inadvertantly benefited from the postponement of the February 17 undisputed heavyweight championship fight between WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine champion Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) and WBC titleholder Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) after the latter suffered a cut eye in sparring. Parker inherited sparring partners from Fury’s camp, including the man who caused the cut, Agron Smakici.

“We spoke to Spencer Brown [Fury’s manager] and we spoke to Tyson and they said these guys gave them the best work – Moses Itauma and Agron,” Parker said.

“And even though Agron gave Tyson the cut before the fight, he was still giving him good work.

“So we thought we’re gonna keep them out here, bring them in and carry on the good work that they’ve been giving Tyson and instead give it to me.

“Since we’ve been out here, they’ve been giving us this work.”