Chinese heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang is targeting a bout with old amateur nemesis Anthony Joshua in his homeland, but first ‘Big Bang’ must cut down Jerry Forrest on the Canelo Alvarez vs Avni Yildirim undercard at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February 27.
Now 37 and based in New Jersey, Zhang (22-0, 17 KOs) lost to Joshua in the Olympic quarter-finals in London in 2012 and would love to get a crack at revenge in the pro game.
Due to their shared affiliation with Matchroom Boxing, a bout with Joshua is feasible though the WBA Super, WBO and IBF champion is engaged for at least another year with WBC king Tyson Fury in their projected two-fight series.
“I would love to fight AJ in China because of our amateur backgrounds,” said 6ft 6ins southpaw Zhang. “The venue is there, the Bird’s Nest [in Beijing] holds 100,000, so we have it all. Beijing and Shanghai are the biggest cities, very economically developed and boxing in China is growing. The sports fans there like boxing, they like AJ, so if we can make it happen it would be huge for boxing.
“I took a week off after the last fight and was right back into the gym. Shaun George is a great trainer, he’s very professional and dedicated, Terry and Tommy Lane, my advisors, are making things happen on their end and the whole team have made this camp great and it’s gone so well.
“It was a good performance last time out [a fourth round KO of Devin Vargas] but we’ve seen what I can do better and in this camp we’ve focused on that, and we have also worked on becoming stronger so I will be prepared for Jerry.
“Jerry has a good record [26-4, 20 KOs] and I respect him a lot. We’ve studied him and know all about him. I hope that when it comes to the fight, we put on a good show for the fans.
“I’m excited to be on the same card as Canelo, he’s an amazing fighter in the ring and a great businessman outside the ring. It’s a big plus and it gives me the chance to showcase my skills to a huge audience and build to bigger fights later in the year.”
Main image: Matchroom Boxing.