Zhang Zhilei will get the chance Saturday night to prove what he had hoped to demonstrate May 7.

If the gigantic Chinese heavyweight can upset highly touted Croatian contender Filip Hrgovic, he’ll move into position to fight the winner of the main event, a 12-round rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua. Zhilei (24-0-1, 19 KOs) and Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) will meet in a 12-round IBF elimination match to determine one of the mandatory challengers for whoever wins the second heavyweight championship bout between Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) and England’s Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) for the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts.

“Saturday, everyone’s gonna witness Chinese power again,” Zhilei said during a press conference Wednesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The 6-foot-6, 277-pound Zhilei displayed his power when the strong southpaw knocked out Scott Alexander in the first round on the Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol undercard May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Los Angeles’ Alexander (16-5-2, 8 KOs), who replaced Hrgovic on short notice, lost by knockout for the first time in his 13 years as a pro.

Zhilei, who lives and trains in northern New Jersey, is motivated to make millions of Chinese fans proud again by beating Hrgovic in what figures to be the most difficult fight of Zhilei’s eight-year pro career. The 6-foot-6, 243-pound Hrgovic, a bronze medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is listed by most sportsbooks as a 10-1 favorite.

“For my last fight, 60 million people from China tuned in to watch that,” Zhilei said. “I believe we’ll make [more] history this time. I’m expecting a hundred million. You know, I have 1.4 billion people behind me and supporting me. Let’s make it happen. I’m fighting for my country.”

The 39-year-old Zhilei, who lost on points to Joshua at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, has taken a circuitous route toward his biggest fight as a pro.

The 2008 Olympic silver medalist has beaten largely a low level of opposition and succumbed to extreme fatigue when he settled for a 10-round majority draw with Jerry Forrest in February 2021. Zhilei floored Forrest (26-5-2, 20 KOs) once apiece in each of the first three rounds, but Forrest withstood Zhilei’s onslaught, got back into their fight and beat Zhilei on one of the scorecards (95-93, 93-93, 93-93) on the Alvarez-Avni Yildirim undercard at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Zhilei has won back-to-back bouts by knockout since he fought Forrest.

“Being here is a privilege for me,” Zhilei said. “Of course, this fight is important. It’s an IBF eliminator. Winning this fight would mean like I can directly step up to face the winner of Usyk-Joshua. And it means a lot in China and [for] the sport of boxing in China. I will promote the sport of boxing in China, just for all my people.”

Sky Sports Box Office will televise Hrgovic-Zhilei as part of its pay-per-view telecast in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£26.95; 6 p.m. BST). DAZN will stream it in the United States as part of the Usyk-Joshua undercard, which will begin at 1 p.m. ET and 10 a.m. PT.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.