For boxing fans who have kept up to date with – or, more likely, been subjected to – the as of yet fruitless trash talk between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, jibes around the Ukrainian’s physical credentials at heavyweight will be all too familiar.
Fury has incessantly claimed Usyk does not belong in the blue ribbon division, and has referred to him simply as “middleweight” in numerous interviews.
And WBO interim champion Zhilei Zhang, who could well be Usyk’s next opponent, appears to have a similar view to that of ‘The Gypsy King.’
Fresh off his stunning knockout win over Joe Joyce in their rematch this past weekend, IFL TV asked Zhang if he believed he would stop Usyk if a unified world title clash between them was indeed to be next.
Safe to say, ‘Big Bang’ was not short of confidence.
“No problem – he’s a cruiserweight.”
After inflicting an eye injury upon Joyce that forced a doctor’s stoppage when they first locked horns back in April, Zhang produced an even more conclusive result second time around, flattening the Brit with a third round right hook that brought proceedings to a swift end.
It remains to be seen whether or not Usyk will indeed be next for the Chinese southpaw, as both a fight with IBF mandatory challenger Flip Hrgovic and an undisputed bout with Fury would likely take priority.
However, Zhang appears to have his eyes set on Fury, with his manager Terry Lane confirming a monster fight with the WBC champion would be their preference over all else.
Be it Fury, Usyk, or any other top heavyweight, Zhang’s next opponent will now be well aware he is not a task to be taken lightly.