It will be Olympian vs. Olympian on Saturday when former silver medalist Zhang Zhilei (21-0, 16 KOs) returns to the ring against Devin Vargas (22-6, 9 KOs) on the Devin Haney vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa undercard at the Seminole Hard RockHotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The entire card will be streamed live on DAZN.
Zhang was a two-time Olympian for China who became a national hero when he won the silver medal at the Beijing games in 2008. He was narrowly defeated by Anthony Joshua in the London games in 2012. Zhang is seeing his first action of 2020, having last fought in November of 2019, a win over Andriy Rudenko (32-5) in Monaco.
Vargas last fought in January 2020, defeating Victor Bisbal (23-5) at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
“This fight is very important to me,” said Zhang. “My aim is for the world title, but I am not overlooking Vargas. He is a veteran and has been in the ring with some of the best. The pandemic has affected everyone in boxing, but my team and I have worked hard for months to get to this point. I will put on a good show this Saturday!”
In addition to being streamed live on DAZN, Zhang vs. Vargas will also be televised in the People’s Republic of China on CCTV5, the nation’s central sports channel which is accessible to nearly all 1.4 billion people in China. In Zhang’s homeland, the bout will be delayed only by a few hours and shown midday on Sunday November 8th.
“A very large TV audience will see this fight in China,” said Zhang’s co-advisor Kurt Li. “It will appear on a long-standing weekly boxing show, and we expect viewership to increase this weekend due to Zhilei’s growing popularity. The Chinese public is starting to pay attention to boxing more, largely due to Zhang’s success.”
The DAZN livestream, which includes Zhang vs. Vargas, Haney vs. Gamboa and several other bouts, begins on DAZN at 8PM Eastern time. Zhang is promoted by Matchroom, who recently released a promotional video about Zhang:
Zhilei Zhang (21-0 16 KOs) – unbeaten Chinese Heavyweight
Zhang on his Olympics medal, loss to AJ, and obsession with fighting him again:
“My dream is to become a heavyweight champion, and Joshua is holding most of the belts. I believe that this dream is going to come true very soon.”
What’s your message to Anthony Joshua?
“Wait for me. We have unfinished business; hope to see you soon.”
Zhang’s thoughts on Vargas:
“Vargas is a veteran; he’s been in the ring with some of the toughest boxers, and I give him a lot of respect. It’s a pleasure to keep him, and on Saturday, we’ll see each other in the ring.”
Devin Vargas (22-6 9 KOs) – Ohio Heavyweight facing Zhang
How do you beat a guy as big as Zhang?
“You work his body. Big guys can’t take the pressure and a high work rate. I’m going to box him and throw a lot of punches – I like to average 60-80 punches around.”
Vargas on being in the ring with Breazeale, Ruiz Jr, and Fa and where Zhang ranks among these:
“All those opponents I’ve faced have gone on to do great things. I was always there at the doorstop of being great, but I think I can capitalize on this fight.”