Fresh off the back off two career-defining wins over Joe Joyce, Zhilei Zhang is looking for a huge fight – and many fans believe Anthony Joshua is the one to give it to him.
Zhang brutally stopped Joyce in the third round of their London rematch, cementing his status as the WBO’s number one contender. In the aftermath he called out Tyson Fury, but it’s believed that the WBC champ will entertain more talks with Oleksandr Usyk for an undsiputed bout.
That leaves ‘Big Bang’ on the sidelines, and some have suggested Joshua to fill the opposite corner. It’s something the Brit’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has said they would be open to – although Zhang’s side claim they ‘swerved’ the fight previously.
The two heavyweights have history dating back to the London Olympic Games in 2012 – a quarter-final bout.
The Brit came off better in a second round exchange, countering Zhang with a well-timed right hand and sending him to the canvas.
Zhang would later say that Joshua ‘ran away’ during the third round on his way to a 15-11 points decision. That win guaranteed the Brit at least a Bronze Medal, but he would go on to beat Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dycho and then Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle to take Gold.
He turned pro one year on, kicking off a campaign that saw him unify three of the four major heavyweight world titles in 21 fights. After losing and winning them back over two fights with Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019, ‘AJ’ came up short against Oleksandr Usyk twice to find himself back in contender status.
Zhang has had no such world honours in his career, waiting until 2014 to turn pro and only competing in his first twelve rounder last year. That was a contentious loss to Filip Hrgovic, from which he’s bounced back with the Joyce wins.
Now, at 40-years-old, he looks to be getting a crack at a title before he hangs up the gloves. Whether a Joshua fight can be snuck in as well remains to be seen.