Terry Lane talks how Zhilei Zhang vs. Joseph Parker crossed the finish line

Earlier today in London, there was a press conference announcing a March 8 card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, titled “Knockout Chaos,” where former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (27-3, 24 KOs) will face former UFC champion Francis Nagannou (0-1). The announced co-feature is intriguing as interim WBO heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) will face former WBO champion Joseph Parker (34-3, 23 KOs).

ProBoxTV has followed the story of Zhang vs. Parker since December, when Parker earned a unanimous decision over former WBC champion Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs). Shortly after, Zhang’s advisor, Terry Lane, told ProBoxTV that they wanted Joshua, but if that couldn’t happen, they would love a fight with Parker. A couple of weeks later, there were rumors of a Zhang fight with Wilder on March 8, but when Lane was contacted about it, he said the talks were in the early stages and nothing had been finalized.

As the press conference drew closer and the anticipation grew, many thought that the Joshua vs. Ngannou fight would be formally announced and that the rest of the card would follow in the coming days. That didn’t happen as Turkish Alalshikh, who has been the face of the recent Saudi boxing events, posted a press release on his social media account that announced the rest of the card, which included Zhang vs. Parker.

Now that it is all done and out there, there was a level of curiosity about how we got here with Zhang and Parker. Lane had told ProBoxTV a few weeks ago that, based on what he had heard, Parker was going to take a break, which is why the Wilder fight was being explored. Upon the release of the news, ProBoxTV checked in with Zhang’s advisor, Lane, to get the full story on how the fight crossed the finish line.

“We knew we would likely fight on this March 8 card before December 23. We had some options for possible opponents locked in that we could have taken just to get a fight, but they didn’t really excite us all that much. We spoke to the Warrens (Queensberry Promotions) and rolled the dice to see how things would shake out on December 23.” Parker ended up beating Wilder which spoiled the plans of Joshua facing Wilder on March 8. Given how Parker looked, it was natural for Team Zhang to pivot towards him especially if the Joshua fight couldn’t be made.

Lane continued “I think our wires got crossed a little because we thought Parker was going to be unavailable, so we thought (Deontay) Wilder would be a good option. We told Queensberry that Parker or Wilder was acceptable once the Joshua vs. Nagnnou fight was made. It turned out Parker was still available for the March 8 fight, and the powers that be, his excellency Turki Alalshikh, and our promoters talked, and that was the fight they wanted to make. His excellency Turki Alalshikh is a passionate boxing fan, and he’s the guy who is making these amazing things happen. He liked the fight with Parker, so once we learned that it was easy to get done at that point.”

We have another big fight card on March 8 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and if the rumors are true, we will have an estimated six more cards for the rest of the year that will be held there. If a big fight is to be made this year in boxing, you can almost guarantee it will likely land in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is proving to do what it takes to host all of the biggest fights in their country, so expect more early Saturday afternoon fights in the States.