Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang is disappointed in Tyson Fury's most recent showing.
Tyson Fury recently fought former MMA champion, Francis Ngannou in a closely contested fight that saw Fury hit the deck. Zhang was disappointed by this.
Zhang, who is coming off back-to-back wins over Joe Joyce, the second of which being a brutal one-punch KO, has seen his stock rise in 2023. The WBO interim heavyweight champion now is stuck in limbo as he waits for Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk to sort out what they are doing until he can contest outright for a world title.
“Ngannou was doing good, I have to give him credit as an MMA fighter who is making his professional debut against a current world champion; he was doing pretty good,” Zhang told ProBox TV News. “Tyson Fury on the other side, it is disappointing. Maybe [Fury] doesn’t train well, but [it is] disappointing.”
“If I was in the ring with Ngannou whatever the result is it is going to be different because I take every fight seriously,” said Zhang. “I take every opponent seriously.”
“Age is just a number for me,” Zhang told ProBox TV News in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. “I have said it multiple times it is just a number, and I feel great, and of course, I want to stay busy, as busy as I can. It is irrelevant to my age, I do want to stay busy and go after the big names.
Zhang, who sat ringside to watch Efe Ajagba knockout Joe Goodall in four rounds is eager for a fight. Yet, given the extreme risk that comes with Zhang's extraordinary power along with his age at 40-years-old, no one seems to be rushing to seeing to see how good Zhang truly is. Fury looked awful against a boxing novice, Zhang questions whether Usyk is a true heavyweight, Anthony Joshua is someone Zhang comfortably calls out, and Deontay Wilder seemingly isn't fighting unless it is for a lot of money. That is the big four in the heavyweight division, and Ngannou would be smart to wait to rematch Fury to avoid a potential bout where he looks mortal. Zhang is the odd man out in a division in which the contenders are simply not getting a chance due to inactivity.
Zhang's co-manager, Terry Lane, explained the situation rather simply. Though they want Fury or Usyk it seems unlikely for next year given that main event fighters rarely fight more than twice a year, and three times is considered extremely active. So it is simply a waiting game for Zhang who will look to stay active and see what opportunities might arise in 2024 as he is hitting the heights of his career at 40 years old, is a very rare feat to reach this age and still be successful. Though possible only a select few have reached such heights such as Bernard Hopkins, and George Foreman. Zhang looks to be added amongst that list.
"There are big names and big opportunities, but these guys have to Zhiliei [Zhang]," said Terry Lane, Zhang's co-manager. "Unfortunately, you have Fury and Usyk and they are going to be tied up for god knows how long - they have rematch clauses on both sides. Are we going to get a chance against one of them in the next year? It might take until 2025, we don't know. We're in a holding pattern. He is a fighter, he is going to fight - and he wants to give the fans what they want, so we are looking into plans B, C, and D now."