Home Boxing News Zhilei Zhang calls out former world champion ahead of Joseph Parker bout

Zhilei Zhang calls out former world champion ahead of Joseph Parker bout

Zhilei Zhang. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Heavyweight contender Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-1 (21) might have a big task ahead of him in Joseph Parker 34-3 (23) at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8, but that hasn’t stopped him calling out one of the biggest names in the division.

Chinese southpaw Zhang, 40, holds the WBO interim title, but it’s not just the winner of the undisputed heavyweight championship fight between Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) and Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) in Saudi Arabia on May 18 that he wants.

Zhang can also see a fight against former two-time unified champion Anthony Joshua 27-3 (24) in his future.

“You have to ask [promoter] Eddie [Hearn] if he wants to put Joshua against me, but I do want to make it happen,” Zhang said in an interview with iFL TV.

Britain’s Joshua, 34, will headline the Saudi card on March 8 featuring Zhang-Parker when he takes on former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou 0-1.

“I think when you look at Francis Ngannou, he’s a novice. Obviously, he is a novice in professional boxing. But he did really well against Tyson Fury,” Zhang said.

“Everybody could see that. So, in terms of boxing skill and boxing experience, I think Joshua definitely has the upper hand. There’s no question about that.

“However, Ngannou has the power, he has the chin. And we’re talking about heavyweight boxing. There are so many things that could happen within one split second. Let’s say, one punch can even change the whole fight.”

Parker and Zhang share a common opponent in Joe Joyce 15-2 (14) but the results of those fights couldn’t be more different.

Joyce knocked out Parker in the 11th round of their bout in September 2022. Last April, Zhang knocked out Joyce in six rounds and bundled him out in three in their immediate rematch five months later.

“I thought Joyce was controlling the fight from round one to round 11 and Joyce gave Parker a lot of pressure,” Zhang said.

“I could see Parker landed multiple shots on Joe Joyce, but he didn’t do the damage he wished. [My] two victories [over Joyce] boosted my confidence and I’m really confident going into the Parker fight.”

At the start of the month WBC heavyweight titleholder Fury was forced to withdraw from his bout against WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine champion Usyk after suffering a cut eye in sparring.

Zhang is still not sure what to make of the situation.

“With Tyson Fury, he runs his mouth, he changes up,” Zhang said. “I’m not saying he produced the cut himself, but there are so many variables going towards that May 18th fight, and anything can happen.

“I think it depends on how he prepares for the fight. If he’s disciplined, he has the leverage, and this is an undisputed fight that everyone wants to see in the heavyweight division. I really do hope he trains hard and pays attention to details.”