A representative for Zhilei Zhang doesn’t have high hopes that his charge will ever get to square off against Anthony Joshua.
China’s Zhang is coming off a rousing third-round knockout of Joe Joyce in their rematch last month that was more definitive than their first encounter, in April, which ended with Zhang stopping Joyce in the sixth round.
The two consecutive wins over a once-highly regarded contender have made the Chinese southpaw a hot commodity these days within the heavyweight ranks. After the win over Joyce, Zhang immediately called out Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, to a showdown.
That match-up, however, will not materialize anytime soon since Fury has a scheduled fight with Francis Ngannou on Oct. 28, followed by a showdown with Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship.
Zhang’s second most desirable option is to take on London’s Joshua, a former titlist and one of the biggest stars in British sports for the past decade.
But according to Terry Lane, a co-manager for Zhang, Joshua nor his handlers—chiefly his promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom—have any interest in that fight.
“Eddie knows,” Lane said on the YouTube channel of GFunky Boxing. “Put the contract in front of us, we’ll sign it right this second to fight AJ. We’ll sign it right this second.
“We could do it in China, we could do it in Saudi Arabia, we could do it in the UK, we have multiple options. The money’s there. This is what we want to do. I know their side—no matter what they say publicly—they want nothing to do with this fight. They want nothing to do with Zhang Zhilei. They’re so avoiding him but listen that’s the fight we want.”
Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs), who has two fights remaining with Queensberry Promotions, was previously promoted by Hearn’s Matchroom but they parted ways after Zhang dropped a disputed decision to Filip Hrgovic last August. Lane has suggested the likes of Joseph Parker and Luis Ortiz for Zhang’s next fight.
Hearn has indicated that Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) could return to the ring in December.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.