Zhilei Zhang: “We’re Looking At Fury, Usyk, Joshua, Wilder, But If Those Guys Run Away, Parker, Ortiz, Chisora, Dubois”

By James Slater - 11/02/2023 - Comments

Zhilei Zhang wants a big fight next, he wants a fight with one of the elite of the division. Very much feeling that HE is the “boss” of the heavyweight division, the 40 year old southpaw from China who is of course coming off those two big stoppage wins over Joe Joyce, says he is aiming at four guys in particular: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder. However, as he told METRO, “if those guys run away from me, that’s a different story.” If he is unable to lock in a fight with either Fury (no chance), Usyk (no chance, with Usyk set to fight Fury next if anyone fights Fury next), Joshua (maybe, but does AJ want it?) or Wilder (again, maybe, but does Wilder want it?), Zhang says he will go after “boxers like [Joseph] Parker, [Luis] Ortiz, [Derek] Chisora, [Daniel] Dubois.”

Pretty much whoever Zhang fights next, it will be a big deal, especially in China, where he is a genuine superstar. Zhang, the WBO mandatory challenger, says he would happily fight Joshua before the end of the year.

“That is definitely an option for me,” Zhang told Metro.co.uk. “You heard Anthony saying there are options out there, but is he serious? Send the contract over and if everything looks good I’ll sign it right away. Right now, we’re still looking to see what happens with the unification [between Fury and Usyk], because the unification overrides everything. But with that done, and it’s out of the way then definitely I will exercise my mandatory challenger position. The options are open and still out there. But for me and my team, we’re looking at the top names. We’re looking at Fury, Usyk, Joshua, Wilder. However, if those guys don’t want to accept my challenge or run away, that’s a different story. Then we go to boxers like Parker, Ortiz, Chisora, Dubois. Everything is possible, I’m not scared of fighting anyone.”

Are the top names running from Zhang, a couple of them, anyway? Fury and Usyk have their fight (or fights) to attend to (a rematch clause in place), but Joshua doesn’t have a next fight set, and neither does Wilder. Or are AJ and Wilder both angling for that massive payday of a fight with Francis Ngannou? Come to think if it, Zhang against Ngannou could be a real monster fight! The heavyweight division was rocked at the weekend, this due to Ngannou’s thoroughly unexpected showing against Fury, and as a result, all manner of fights have been spoken of as being possible. But in the case of Zhang, “Big Bang” has shown a willingness to take risks, by taking on dangerous fights. Zhang – who could just sit on his WBO mandatory position and wait, isn’t like that, he wants to fight. As such, Zhang must be rewarded with another big opportunity soon.

Could Zhang be the new danger-man of the division?