China’s Zhilei Zhang took his seat at the top table of the heavyweight division following a highlight reel third round knockout win over Joe Joyce last weekend at Wembley Arena in London, England. The 40 year old southpaw and Olympic silver medalist defended his WBO interim title he claimed in a first fight with Joyce this past April halting him inside six rounds.
Zhang stopped the Englishman on away soil after a career lone defeat to Filip Hrgovic over a year ago. Anthony Joshua joins Zhang in The Best of the Rest category of the heavyweight division having rebuilt with two victories over Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius since losing his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Oleksandr Usyk.
Champions Tyson Fury and Usyk facing each other appear to have legs once again, while the prospect of Joshua Vs Deontay Wilder seems to have fallen off the cliff, leaving the former two-time heavyweight world champion short of a dance partner.
“Absolutely, It's one we have always talked about.” Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn answered as to whether Zhang Vs Joshua could seriously happen at the 80,000 capacity Bird’s Nest in Beijing, China. “It is one we have always talked about because we represented Zhang for five or six fights.
“There wasn’t really the interest there or the money from the [Chinese] government for that fight, but that was before Zhang had these notable victories. So, we are up for it, If there is a big money offer out there for Zhang. Joshua wants the biggest fights out there. Really, there are two big big fights, one is Wilder, one is Fury. Zhang in the Bird’s Nest is right up there.”
Talk of Joshua Vs Wilder has dragged on for years. There had appeared to be some hope in the heavyweight mega-fight with the help of oil-rich Saudi Arabia, but that also did not come to fruition.
“Right now, we have to see if we can conclude the Wilder deal.” Hearn added. “It looks like that could be February or March, if it is? We will have to decide if we will fight in December. So, lots to decide. If there is a big offer to fight Zhang, then absolutely we will look at it. It was a great performance [by Zhang]. I feel for Joe Joyce, Zhang deserved the victory and it was a bad knockout.”