Zhilei Zhang took a seat at the heavyweight top table this year with two statement stoppages of Joe Joyce in London.
The man known as ‘Big Bang’ forced doctors to intervene back in April via shots to Joyce’s eye, before putting a more conclusive ending to the rivalry with a devastating third round knockout in September’s rematch.
He is now mandatory for a shot at the WBO world title, but may have to wait as the two champions, Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury, negotiate an undisputed bout.
Zhang’s team want to keep him active and, at 40-years-old, say he’s only interested in challenging fights. One name they floated was that of Deontay Wilder – the former WBC Champ with 42 knockouts from 43 wins.
Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, told Fight Hub TV that he respects Zhang and his trainer, Shaun George.
“I like Zhang. What I really like is the system behind him – Shaun George – one of the best up and coming trainers in boxing. We went to school together. How he’s got Zhang boxing makes him a very dangerous guy.
He’s got him staying behind his front knee, he got him countering any straight right hands that come at him, and he’s got him just extremely patient.”
Having said that, his prediction for the fight, should it be made, is a firm one.
“Deontay would knock Zhilei Zhang out cold. He’s too big to get out the way.”
Zhang’s promoter, Frank Warren, told Boxing Social that he would happily make the fight against the hard-hitting American, who has pursued a fight with Anthony Joshua for some time but may be forced to wait until spring of 2024 for it to happen.