Anthony Joshua’s old Olympics rival, Zhilei Zhang, is the latest heavyweight tipped to challenge the unified champion for his belts.
The Chinese knockout specialist at the weekend defeated Devin Vargas inside four rounds, reports givemesport.com.
Now undefeated in 22, the Olympic silver medallist actually lost to AJ in London back in 2012 but has made it clear of his intentions for a rematch in China; coming off the back of the Chinese competitor’s first professional fight solely promoted by Matchroom.
‘Big Bang’ Zhang connected a left hand down the middle from his southpaw stance, which, ultimately, did the damage to Vargas inside the fourth round.
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom promoted the 37-year-old for the first time and it is safe to say ‘Big Bang’ Zhang certainly impressed with a domineering display against Vargas.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports before the fight, Zhang said: “Hundreds of millions of people in China are waiting to see a heavyweight world championship fight happen.
“I hope that when Chinese people talk about boxing, they talk about that fight. It will break the record if the fight can be made.”
His advisor, Terry Lane, also told Sky Sports: “Professional boxing in China is still in its infancy, it is still emerging. But there are indications that it is growing, although it’s not as big as NBA, tennis or golf.
“To make it explode, we want a big heavyweight fight involving Zhilei hosted in China.
“He is a very talented, top heavyweight who is in the mix. We want to use this to build the boxing industry in China.”
With the Chinese voicing his desire for a rematch with the British heavyweight champion, and under Hearn’s promotion, you may be forgiven if you feel that Joshua’s head could be turned, if the right deal was struck.
The British audience no doubt wants to see a unification bout between AJ and fellow heavyweight champion Tyson Fury; however, with both fighters expecting to meet mandatory demands set out by the powers-that-be, it is proving a bit of an obstacle block.
That being said, Hearn has since stated that the pair have agreed a two-fight deal taking place in 2021 and fans can only hope both fighters still have all the belts by that time.