China's "interim" WBO heavyweight champ Zhilei Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) has his sights set on a marquee matchup with Britain's former world champion Anthony Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs). With the big dogs, Fury and Usyk, locked in for a unification fight, Zhilei sees an opening:
"Joshua's the man I want to meet with in the ring. We've got history, plus I've been in talks with Matchroom Boxing. They've been playing it coy about throwing down with me.
I'm game anytime, anywhere. Just slide that contract my way, and I'll sign on the dotted line. Matchroom's been in the loop about my eagerness for this clash, but they've been holding back. Be it London, the dunes of Saudi Arabia, or even back home in China, I'm down for it," Zhilei told Gambling.com.
Frank Warren, Zhilei's promoter, notes the Chinese boxer is nursing an injury. Meanwhile, Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, is eyeing a December showdown for his fighter with a potential follow-up against Deontay Wilder.
Joshua last flexed his knockout prowess in August, dispatching Robert Helenius in the seventh round. Zhilei, for his part, has had a double whammy in 2023, twice taking down Joe Joyce.
The two heavyweights have a history that dates back to the 2012 Olympics quarterfinals, where Joshua emerged victorious. Now, Zhilei is itching for a rematch on the professional stage.