Home Boxing News Joseph Parker dethrones Zhilei Zhang, will head directly into rematch with Chinese...

Joseph Parker dethrones Zhilei Zhang, will head directly into rematch with Chinese giant

Joseph Parker celebrates his win over Zhilei Zhang. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Joseph Parker 35-3 (23) will head directly into a rematch with Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-2-1 (21) after defeating the Chinese giant by majority decision at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Friday night.

Former WBO heavyweight champion had to work hard for the win and stick to his game plan, climbing off the canvas once in each the third and eighth rounds before finishing the fight the stronger of the two.

Southpaw Zhang, 40, was known to be a dangerous puncher but there were question marks going in to the fight about his stamina.

The 32-year-old Parker of New Zealand sought to exploit this, but first he had to cross a river of fire.

The first test came in the third round when Zhang slammed home a huge left hand that left Parker on his backside.

Parker reset and boxed well for the next three rounds, wobbling Zhang in the fourth before Zhang came on in the seventh and dropped Parker again in the eighth with a blows to the head.

“Parker was boxing well up to the knockdown but a short chopping right hand just caught him above the ear,” said Sky Sports’ Matthew Macklin.

“It’s like clipping you with a sledgehammer.”

Parker had his work cut out for him but he bit down on the mouthpiece and got on with the job, rallying in the ninth and attacking Zhang’s body. In the 10th he outhustled Zhang who was looking for one big shot to close the show.

By the 11th round Zhang’s face was swollen and he was breathing hard. Going in to the final round, his trainer Shaun George implored his boxer to close out the show.

“I need a knockout. I don’t trust these judges. You got to go, get him outta here,” George said.

It was fine advice, but Zhang was simply in no condition to let his hands go. Parker closed out the fight in impressive fashion in the last four rounds.

“Zhang’s corner said he needed to go out there and get him out in the 12th round, but he hasn’t done much,” Macklin said.

“He’s clearly tired. He isn’t able to do it.

“If Parker gets the decision, I make this a better win than the [Deontay] Wilder one.”

Two of the judges saw the bout in favour of Parker while the third saw it draw. The official scores were 114-112, 115-111 and 113-113, earning the Kiwi the interim WBO strap.

“Hard work, hard work, hard work [is what got me here],” said Parker.

“I lost to Joe Joyce, had a win over Jack Massey and wasn’t happy with my performance. It is an incredible coming back from that loss.

“We’re going to fight Zhang again. That’s what we are contracted to do.”