Chinese heavyweight giant Zhilei Zhang revealed in a recent interview that he was in negotiations to face MMA veteran Francis Ngannou on December 23, as part of the big boxing card taking place in Saudi Arabia.
Ngannou, a former UFC champion, made his professional debut in October, in a crossover boxing match with WBC champion Tyson Fury.
The combat sports fighter made a real statement in the ring, as he dropped Fury in the third round and gave him problems as the contest played out. Fury came away with a close ten round split decision win.
According to Zhang, Ngannou was not interested in that scenario.
"There were originally talks to have me fight Ngannou [on December 23] and I was like, 'Okay, it's a walk in the park for me, I'll take it.' But Ngannou didn't want to do it. And then it's what you see. The big names started to come in like Joshua filling the card. And that's what happened," Zhang told The Daily Mail.
Zhang is willing to take on all comers - as most of the top names are tied up. Former two-time champion Anthony Joshua is facing Otto Wallin on December 23. As part of the same card, former champions Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker will collide.
"I believe everyone is busy with their schedule but I'm someone that whoever you put in front of me, I'll fight. It's up to [my] team," Zhang said.
"I think it's coming [big fight in China] in 2024, people will see something like that. People behind the scenes are working very hard, every day trying to push this and I believe in 2024 we will see a high level world title fight. Everyone is invited.
"I have a strong feeling that something big is coming and I want everyone to stay tuned. If you're watching my fight I'm not going to let you down."