It was a good win but one that many in boxing circles viewed as a bit fluky.
Joe Joyce was a former Olympic silver medalist and while he never had the prettiest style, he was effective. Zhilei Zhang, however, couldn’t care less about Joyce’s punching power and granite chin. In his opinion, all he needed to do was land one good time on Joyce’s chin to end the fight. In their eventual rematch, Zhang pointed to his fist when he came face-to-face with Joyce, accentuating that his left hand was going to be his preferred weapon of his choice.
Zhang’s prediction, ultimately, was off but only slightly. Ultimately, it was his right hand that turned off the lights of Joyce this past weekend.
Just like that, Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) is on top of the boxing world. He’s viewed as a viable contender to both Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly unlikely that he will get his hands on either man. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s devoid of options.
The one name Zhang has always wanted to swap fists with is former unified champion, Anthony Joshua. Eddie Hearn, his longtime promoter, has always liked Zhang. Taking into account his newfound fame, Hearn not only likes the idea of a Joshua vs. Zhang showdown, but he’s also interested in staging that sort of fight in Zhang’s hometown.
“We’ve always considered him for Anthony Joshua,” said Hearn on Boxing Social. “It’s a massive fight in China.”
Zhang danced as he walked back to his locker room following his win over Joyce. Now, he might be pirouetting his way to the biggest fight of his career.
Now before Zhang and his millions of followers get too excited over the possibility of facing a former champion, Hearn still has bigger goals on his agenda. Matchroom’s figurehead is attempting to place the finishing touches on a deal that would finally give us Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder.
But, no matter how hard Hearn tries, he continues to come across a roadblock or two. He’s now doing his best to work his way around it but the original date of December/January is no longer realistic. If Joshua takes on Wilder a bit later than expected, Hearn could put his man in the ring before the year comes to a close. Take a swing in the dark as to who’s the leading candidate. If you guessed Zhang, you’re correct.
“I think realistically, if the Wilder fight now is gonna happen in February or March, we got to make a decision if we fight in December. Would that be against Zhilei Zhang? For sure, if there was a big fight to be made in China, Joshua would have no problem taking that fight.”