Zhilei Zhang has, in the minds of many, had the most impressive 2023 on the heavyweight scene.
That devastating third round stoppage cemented him as mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s WBO World Title, but the Ukrainian is currently signed to fight Tyson Fury in an undisputed bout.
Zhang told FreeBets that he was waiting in the wings for his shot.
“Right now, we’re still looking to see what happens with the unification, because the unification overrides everything. We’re still looking to see what happens with that. But with that done, and it’s out of the way then definitely I will exercise my mandatory challenger position.”
Having said that, ‘Big Bang’ isn’t willing to sit out. In fact, he wants two-time champion and former Olympic opponent, Anthony Joshua.
“That is definitely an option for me. You heard Anthony saying there are options out there, but is he serious? Send the contract over and if everything looks good I’ll sign it right away.”
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, recently told Boxing Social that he is likely to return in January – although the fighter still isn’t ruling out December 23.
Zhang – whose career was handled by Hearn until the first Joyce bout – wants the fight, and top heavyweights in general. The 6′ 6″ southpaw reeled off a list of names.
“The options are open and still out there. But for me and my team, we’re looking at the top names. We’re looking at Fury, Usyk, Joshua, Wilder.
However, if those guys don’t want to accept my challenge or run away from me, that’s a different story. Then we go to boxers like Parker, Ortiz, Chisora, Dubois.”
“Everything is possible, I’m not scared of fighting anyone. My target right now is for the bigger names.”
At 40-years-old, time is ticking on a career that kickstarted late, but fans are clearly in for some more thrilling nights as it concludes.