Promoter Frank Warren believes Zhilei Zhang can finish what Daniel Dubois started but failed to complete against Oleksandr Usyk.
The Queensberry Promotions head sang the praises of China’s Zhang, his new heavyweight client, after Zhang brutally stopped Joe Joyce in three rounds in their 12-round rematch last Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) landed a left to the body, followed by a right hook that caused Joyce to crumble to the canvas. He was then counted out by the referee.
Zhang, 38, could now be in a position to fight some of the biggest names in the division, such as WBC titlist Tyson Fury, who is also backed by Queensberry and whom Zhang called out immediately after knocking out Joyce.
Asked to consider Zhang’s chances against Usyk, the unified IBF, WBO, and WBA heavyweight champion, Warren made it clear the Chinese southpaw could do a number on the dexterous Ukrainian.
Warren pointed to the controversial body blow that his other client, Daniel Dubois, landed on Usyk in their fight last month in Poland. Dubois ended up getting stopped in the ninth round.
“I fancy him against Usyk,” Warren said of Zhang in an interview with iFL TV. “I think he’s a big, big man. I fancy him. Look, Usyk is a very, very good fighter. But I fancied Daniel Dubois would give him a tough fight and he exposed him. He showed what we all know in the business because we know something about the business. We’re very good at guiding fighters, and I know that he struggles with shots to the body and that was shown. I’ve seen that in the past.
“He certainly won’t take the punch of this guy.”
With the win, Zhang remains the WBO interim titlist. Warren noted that he does not feel that the WBO will mandate a fight until next summer, but he expects Zhang to stay busy in the meantime.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.