Joshua vs. Ngannou Undercard: Parker Ready to Prove the Doubters Wrong Against Zhang

By Tim Compton - 03/07/2024 - Comments

Joseph Parker is fine with being the underdog against Zhilei Zhang this Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Parker (34-3, 23 KOs) doesn’t mind being viewed as the underdog going up against WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs), seeing that he knows in his mind that he’ll win and prove the doubters wrong.

Zhang defends his WBO interim title against Parker on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou on DAZN PPV at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Zhang is coming off back to back knockout wins over Joe Joyce, a fighter that stopped Parker in the eleventh round in September 2022.

That might be one of the reasons why the oddsmakers have Zhang as the favorite in this fight. He didn’t just beat Joyce. He destroyed him twice, and that guy dominated Parker.

Respect, But Not Fear

“I don’t mind whatever title they give me. I know I’m ready, and I’m going to put on a great performance,” said Joseph Parker to Queensberry, reacting to being asked about his thoughts on being the underdog against Zhilei Zhang on Friday in Riyadh.

“I’m looking forward to what Zhang brings. I respect Zhang for what he’s done. He beat the guy [Joe Joyce] that beat me. So, now it’s time for me to beat him, and show what I can do in the ring, Parker continued.

Parker looks in good shape, so he’s as ready as he can be for this fight. But it’s not going to be as easy for Parker as it was for his last fight against Deontay Wilder last December because he wasn’t met with much resistance.

Wilder was moving all night, throwing almost nothing, and tuning out his trainer between rounds, who was asking him to let his hands go. He wasn’t in the mood, so he lost badly to Parker, making him look better than he actually was.

“It was a lot more difficult to find southpaw sparring partners. Andy [Lee] has done a great job of bringing in the guys that I needed. So, I feel like I’ve done everything I can to prepare for Zhang,” said Parker.

Double Down on Zhang

“I beat Zhang, and then beat him again, and then the world opens up for anyone else. But first, Zhang in front of me,” said Parker.

It’s not going to be easy for Parker to beat Zhang twice in a row without getting knocked out. Zhang’s only loss was a controversial decision to Filip Hrgovic, who was dropped by him and looked like the loser of the fight.

“Do you know what’s mad is what you’ve done since the Joe Joyce fight. A lot of people felt at that stage, it might be it for you,” said Eddie Hearn. “You came back with a win over Wilder, and now you’re in with Zhang. I’ve never seen you in this kind of shape before.”

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