Few people spoke much about Zihlei Zhang until his back-to-back wins over Brit Joe Joyce, but now he is a popular figure who is very much in the heavyweight picture with some of the biggest names in the sport.
Both of those wins over the formerly unbeaten and often immovable looking Joyce have come this year – the first fight was stopped due to the damage Zhang’s ram-rod left hand had caused to Joyce’s eye, and the second was a much cleaner and quicker knockout in the third round which leaves Joyce a long way out of the picture and Zhang very much in it.
The hard-hitting Chinese fighter now has many options. He is hugely popular back home and would represent a good scalp for any of the division’s top dogs should they dare to take him on.
Speaking to Inside Boxing Live, Southpaw Zhang was asked for one-word answers about a range of his fellow heavyweight contenders. When it came to Anthony Joshua, he didn’t hesitate.
Because of that and the size of Joshua’s profile, a fight between him and Zhang would surely do huge numbers out in China as well as representing a great matchup for boxing fans.
Instead, Zhang has called out Tyson Fury several times while also retaining his WBO mandatory challenger status to Oleksandr Usyk’s belt.
Joshua, meanwhile, continues to be linked with a fight with Deontay Wilder which would be just as interesting although nothing has yet been officially announced.