Zhilei Zhang believes Tyson Fury will have enough time for his cut to heal following the postponement of his undisputed encounter with Oleksandr Usyk.
WBC heavyweight champion Fury and unified titleholder Usyk were set to fight in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, on February 17. Fury was cut in preparation for the date, which was swiftly rearranged for May 18 for the same location.
Despite Zhang believing that Fury has sufficient time to recover from the injury, he warned Fury the wound could play a role in the new date and urged Fury to work with ‘trustworthy’ sparring partners.
“It’s hard to say [how the cut will impact the fight],” Zhang said to Gambling.com. “Every fighter is different with how long cuts take to heal. It really depends on the person. But I do think Tyson Fury has enough time to heal and find sparring. If I were him, I would be very careful to find trustworthy and understanding sparring partners.
“The cut could factor into the fight, especially if an older cut has opened. It’s possible it could open again. Oleksandr Usyk could target the eye, but he would also have to expect that Tyson Fury would have a strategy to protect the eye or have a strategy to use Usyk’s aggression towards the eye against him. The cut does present an interesting element.”
Zhang returns on March 8 in Riyadh, featuring on the event headlined by Anthony Joshua - Francis Ngannou, following his back-to-back stoppage wins over Joe Joyce in 2023.
The Chinese heavyweight meets Joseph Parker on the bill and the winner will maintain their spot in the heavyweight queue for a title.
“Camp has been going very well for me,” added Zhang. “I feel strong, and I’m working hard with my trainer, Shaun George, on a game plan. I am confident in a victory, but I’ll keep specific predictions to myself. I believe I am going to put on a show alongside Joseph Parker.
“I’m very excited to fight in Saudi Arabia. His Excellency, Turki Alalshikh, has a big vision, and he is a man who is executing that vision for the benefit of boxing fans worldwide.”