Zhilei Zhang believes the right string of wins could get him an Anthony Joshua fight!
In regards to boxing, there is no question that the business side plays a tremendous role in the overall sport. With increasing frequency, we hear the fighters themselves sound more like lawyers than pugilists. These days’ boxers are fond of calling out the highest payday rather than seeking to face the greatest challenge. As a result, fighters can wield great power due to a social media following rather than anything that they have accomplished in the ring. Realizing this, heavyweight contender Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (22-0, 17 KO’s) wants to cash in on the best of both worlds.
To illustrate this point, one has to look no further than lightweight fighter Ryan “KingRy” Garcia. By deftly using his social media accounts the Californian kid has amassed a tremendous fan following. In fact, his popularity was so robust that the living legend Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao was interested in facing him. It’s no knock on KingRy as a fighter, but his professional resume has nothing on it to warrant a bout with Pacquiao. Yet, with his fan base and the money that it can command, Garcia was able to pique the interest of Pac Man.
Zhang believes that he can combine his in-ring skills with the staggeringly dense Chinese market to become a global superstar. If he did achieve those lofty heights, he has already said his biggest goal would be to fight WBA, WBO and IBF World Heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua in China. Provided that he continues his winning ways, it would not take a huge leap of imagination to envision Big Bang becoming more of a major player. Currently he is listed as the IBF’s #15 and WBO’s #8 ranked heavyweight in the world.
RIPE WITH OPPORTUNITY
One major knock against Big Bang is his rather dreary professional ledger. After six years as a professional, Zhang has no overly noteworthy opponent to speak of. Luckily however, with his WBO standing he is in striking range of a number of beneficial prizefights. Opposition such as #7 ranked Michael Hunter or #4 ranked Andy Ruiz are front of mind. Hunter is a great up-and-coming heavyweight talent himself. Provided that Zhang could topple him, Hunter would be a great feather in his cap.
Due to his back-to-back bouts with Anthony Joshua, Ruiz has become a very well-known fighter. If Zhang penned a fight with Ruiz and did well, he would go a long way in improving his own overall popularity. In his next outing, Big Bang will take on “Slugger” Jerry Forrest (26-4, 20 KO’s) on the undercard of WBA Super and WBC World Super Middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next prizefight.
SHOOT A LITTLE HIGHER
Although, like most of his competition, Forrest leaves a great deal to be desired. To this point, his thirty professional opponents have amassed a total of 329 total losses. Eleven of those foes have fifteen losses or more. Therefore Zhang will have to shoot much higher than this if he wants the same push from China that Canelo receives from Mexico. Luckily, he will get his time to prove his worth on a very big stage in boxing. Yet, if he truly wants to rumble with Joshua, he will have to put on a show against guys like Forrest.
“It’s going to become a reality because China is a huge market and in order to do that, I feel like I only have to step up and make my name. I have to match up with his [Joshua] name!”
By: Bakari Simpson