Zhilei Zhang Says He Was “Very Close” To Getting Fury Fight

09/19/2023 - By James Slater - Comments

Zhilei Zhang says he was “very close” to getting a shot at Tyson Fury and his WBC heavyweight title after his upset win over Joe Joyce in April. But then “The Juggernaut” activated his rematch clause, and “Big Bang” now has to repeat his win over Joyce. The two big guys collide again this Saturday as fans know, and 40 year old Zhang tells Sky Sports he aims to secure the Fury fight with a second win over Joyce.

Fury, as we know, is only interested in “the biggest paydays” these days, hence his October fight with MMA star Francis Ngannou. Who knows what Fury will do after he defeats Ngannou in the Middle East (as he absolutely will), but a fight with Zhang, before a huge crowd in a sold-out monster arena in China would certainly bring Fury a huge payday.

Zhang’s co-manager, Terry Lane, says a repeat win over Joyce will elevate his man into an elite group of heavyweights that will consist of Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Zhang.

“I think a win for Zhilei on Saturday really separates out the heavyweight division,” Lane told Sky Sports. “If he is victorious, you really have Fury, Usyk, and Zhang on top. Everyone else will be far, far beneath. If Zhilei wins, as we expect him to again, Fury is our first target. We will have to sit back and see what fights get made – and perhaps more importantly, which fights do not get made. The division is just a constant game of ‘musical chairs.’”

While Anthony Joshua and his supporters would argue that AJ still ranks above Zhang even if he scores a second win over Joyce, it is true that Zhang will have to be looked at as one of the best big men out there today. And a fight between Zhang and Fury would perhaps be one of the more interesting fights that could be made. Yes, we all want, still, the Fury-Usyk undisputed showdown, but does Fury want it? Again, Fury would bag a huge payday, and he would be viewed by millions of fans if he fought Zhang in China.

First, though, Zhang has to get past Joyce again. And Zhang says he will be targeting Joyce’s eye on Saturday, the eye he so badly busted up in the first fight.

“That exposed that weakness. So I would be a fool if I didn’t continue exploiting that,” Zhang said of Joyce’s eye.

Fans are interested to see if Joyce’s eye holds up on Saturday. If it doesn’t, Joyce will find himself in a whole heap of trouble once again. And Zhang and his team will begin banging the drum for that massive fight with Fury.