The Big Z Vs. The Bronze Bomber: Zhang Seeks Wilder Clash On Joshua-Ngannou Undercard
Zhilei Zhang’s co-manager Terry Lane, reportedly is interested in his fighter ‘Big Bang’ facing Deontay Wilder in the chief support slot on the Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou card on March 8th in Saudi Arabia.
WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) and the ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder have been mentioned as potentially facing each other on the Joshua-Ngannou card or fighting someone else.
A battle between them would create a lot of buzz, but it might not end well for Deontay (43-3-1, 42 KOs), as he’s coming off a terribly poor performance in a wide twelve round unanimous decision loss to Joseph Parker on December 23rd.
Big Bang Zhang’s hunger grows
Zhang will have a chance to create more interest in his career and put himself in against one of the big names, Joshua or Tyson Fury, if he dispatches Deontay on the March 8th card in Saudi.
Last year, Zhang twice knocked out British heavyweight Joe Joyce, making easy work of him both times. It was thought that those victories would open the door for Zhang to get a fight against Joshua or Fury, but neither one of these heavyweights has shown interest in fighting him.
If Zhang can obliterate Wilder, the Saudis could persuade Fury or Joshua to face him unless they are so afraid of mixing it with the powerful Chinese heavyweight that they refuse.
Deontay can use this fight against Zhang as an opportunity to redeem himself from his humiliating defeat against Joseph Parker last December. It’s fair to say that Wilder absolutely requires a win over a talent like Zhang to put himself in play for a payday for a fight against Joshua.
“I have been told that Zhilei Zhang will be on the undercard, most likely in the co-main event,” said Chris Mannix on his forum, talking about the March 8th Saudi Arabia event, headlined by Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou.
“Zhang had a fantastic 2023. With two wins over Joe Joyce, he revived his career. At 40 years old, he is a top-five heavyweight. So, he put himself in this position, and now here he is, set to appear on this card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Zhang wants all the smoke, and the guy that he and his team want is Deontay Wilder. I’ve been told that the people in Saudi Arabia, the dealmakers over there, they want that fight, too.
“My initial reaction to hearing about a Zhang-Wilder fight. ‘He’s all wrong for us.’ That’s what I feel [trainer] Malik Scott should say to Deontay Wilder if this is brought up to him in a serious way because Zhilei Zhang is all wrong for Deontay Wilder.
The Bronze Bomber must think about facing Zhang
“Zhilei Zhang is a big, sturdy, granite chin, hard-hitting southpaw with a ton of confidence,” said Mannix. “The hiccups that Zhang has had in his career is when he had some weird medical experiences in Florida before the Jerry Forrest fight and then he had that razor-close loss to Filip Hrgovic back when Hrgovic was the boogeyman in the heavyweight division.
“Since then, he has been fantastic. Those knockouts of Joe Joyce were really impressive. So, if I’m Deontay Wilder, I’d think twice about getting in the ring with Zhilei Zhang. As a fan, I’d love to see it. That’s a fun fight, especially if Deontay Wilder is a different fighter, sits down on his punches more, gets in a firefight, and tests the chin of Zhang.
“Zhang is relentless, and he can crack. The left hand of Zhang is the punch that busted up and closed the eye of Joe Joyce. The right hand of Zhang is the punch that knocked out Joyce in the rematch.
“It’s also possible that Zhang fights somebody else on that card, and Wilder fights somebody else on that card,” said Mannix.