Does Zhilei Zhang Deserve A Rematch With Joseph Parker?

By James Slater - 03/11/2024 - Comments

As fans know, heavyweights Joseph (“I’ll-Fight-Anyone-And-I’ve-Proven-It”) Parker and Zhilei Zhang fought on the “Knockout Chaos” card, with New Zealander Parker winning via majority decision over the Chinese southpaw. And as fans also know, Parker said post-fight how he and Zhang are contracted to fight a rematch.

Parker said he has no problems facing “Big Bang” a second time. But what of Zhang? Did the 40 year old man-mountain come in too hefty at 291 pounds, this his career-heaviest weight? Zhang produced a pretty low punch output, a quite pathetic punch output, you could say. There was no apparent urgency from Zhang, even when he and his corner had to know the fight was slipping away on the cards.

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And here’s the really frustrating part. When Zhang DID let his hands go, he knocked Parker down. Twice. And Zhang didn’t even load up, or come close to loading up, either time he put Parker on the mat. Zhang’s seemingly innocuous punches and the very real effect they have on his opponents, remind some of the “old” George Foreman; a man who, like Zhang currently has, had massive power in his huge arms, with him able to get big results from what looked to the uninitiated like nothing blows.

Zhang’s power if for real, as is his chin, the older man taking some flush right hands to the head from Parker without even giving the suggestion of a flinch. But the problem with Zhang is his punch output, his poor, even stingy punch output. The way he fought against Parker, one would think every punch he threw cost Zhang money. But maybe the problem is simple: Zhang is afraid of gassing out – the way he gassed out in his lucky draw with Jerry Forrest back in February of 2021.

Zhang hit the mat in that fight, and he was hospitalised after the fight, with him found to have a kidney ailment. Zhang made a full recovery, with him having six fights since, with Zhang losing only to Filip Hrgovic and to Parker, with Zhang really making a name for himself in those two crushing wins over Joe Joyce. So, has Zhang been afraid of gassing out again ever since the Forrest fight? Something was wrong with the “Big Bang” we all saw fail to fully unload against Parker, that’s for sure. With so much at stake, with an entire country in his corner, one would have thought Zhang would have, as the adage goes, ‘left it all in the ring,’ with him pushing himself as hard as he could possibly push himself in the later rounds against Parker.

Instead, Zhang was listless, especially in the final round (where he landed a reported zero punches). Now, Zhang wants that rematch with Parker. But does he deserve it? Parker, who really does have some amazing CV, should be free to move on and fight another big name. Yet the seemingly constant rematch clauses we see in the sport these days will see to it that Parker has to go over old ground against Zhang; a man who may or may not deserve the big payday a rematch with Parker will net him. Ask yourself, did Zhang show genuine hunger, desire, and a whatever it takes willingness to try and win on March 8?

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Zhang’s guy Terry Lane spoke with Sky Sports, with him saying how Zhang can “make the adjustments, win more rounds” in a return with Parker.

Maybe Zhang can. But again, do YOU want to see this rematch? Does Zhang deserve it? What if the rematch does happen, and Zhang again throws punches with caution, with a fear of running out of steam? Zhang got us all excited after his two big wins over Joyce, but how much of that excitement, along with Zhang’s momentum, was lost as a result of “Big Bang’s” low output showing against Parker?

To be fair, Lane conceded how his fighter’s failure to try and pour it on during the final four rounds of the Parker fight is “something that he will have to work on.”

“According to Zhilei, he never was gassed, but really just felt frozen in the last third of the fight,” Lane said. “After round eight, he thought he was up on the cards more than he actually was. Zhilei being a puncher, he never really had to worry about stealing rounds, but not doing much of anything for the last four will not win you fights. It’s something that he will have to work on.”


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