Home Boxing News Zhilei Zhang focused on Joseph Parker rematch, wants to bring the fight...

Zhilei Zhang focused on Joseph Parker rematch, wants to bring the fight to China

Zhilei Zhang and Joseph Parker. Photo credit: Richard Pelham/Getty Images

Chinese heavyweight Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 26-2-1 (21) has admitted his confidence got the better of him in his majority decision loss to Joseph Parker 35-3 (23) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last month.

The 40-year-old southpaw did have pockets of success in the fight, most notably in the third and eighth rounds when he dropped the 32-year-old former WBO champion from New Zealand to the canvas, but faded late in the fight to lose by scores of 111-115, 112-114 and 113-113.

It was a bitter blow for Zhang, who was riding high in the lead up to the bout following his back-to-back knockout victories over fellow contender Joe Joyce 16-2 (15) last year.

“I probably didn’t have the same mentality as when I fought Joe Joyce because when I fought Joyce I told myself I was going to take the belt from him and then in the second fight, it was me guarding the belt. The desire to defeat him was very strong,” Zhang said to CGTN.

“After defeating Joyce I became overconfident, which made me a bit too relaxed when fighting Joseph Parker. In fact, in the first half of the fight, I had the upper hand totally. Towards the end, he changed his tactics. He tried to control the distance, so I couldn’t hit him. I started to feel anxious.

“After the game, I thought about it. I did have a lot of that training for that – including what to do when he held me – but somehow I didn’t get my head around it in the second half of the game. I failed to draw on some of the strategies.”

Zhang is now plotting his revenge against Parker, vowing a different result if and when they meet again.

“We signed a rematch clause before the fight,” he said. “As an interim heavyweight champion of the World Boxing Organisation, I was entitled to a rematch if I lost. If I had won, we wouldn’t have a rematch. The second fight will happen at the end of this year.

“We are working hard right now to bring a fight to China. There are some difficulties in making it happen but we are working very hard.

“I think that if a top boxing championship match is held in China, it will be a source of inspiration for China’s boxers and Chinese boxing fans.”

Zhang sees the potential for the growth of the sport in his homeland and it’s something he wants to play a part in.

“China has been developing rapidly in recent decades and so have Chinese sports,” he said. “Since the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when Chinese athletes won the most gold medals for the first time, the entire Chinese sports industry has had a big leap forward.

“For me, I want to let the world know about China through boxing and then let China know more about the the world.”