Zhilei Zhang targets Derek Chisora and Joe Joyce – ‘we are inching closer to a world title shot’

Tuesday 23rd February 2021 06:15 GMT

Undefeated Chinese contender Zhang aims to extend his record to 23-0 against Jerry Forrest on Saturday in Miami, on the undercard to Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's world title fight with Avni Yildirim.

"We are looking for a step up against a big name," Zhang's advisor Terry Lane told Sky Sports.

"We want a name that will draw more attention to Zhang because he doesn't yet have a big name on his résumé.

"Chisora is the name that I like. Joyce is also a fight that we would love.

"Let me say it like this; there is no name that we are looking to avoid."

Zhang is now solely promoted by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom and, although his career has been based in the US, he wants to fight in front of his UK-based Chinese fans, Lane says.

"There are more passionate boxing fans in the UK including among the Chinese community," he says.

"Boxers, golfers or any athletes are global these days so we would definitely look at the UK.

"We have no reservations about that. The sand under our feet is constantly changing but, for the right opportunity, we would do it."

Zhang lost to eventual gold medallist Anthony Joshua at the London 2012 Games - four years earlier he won silver in Beijing.

Now aged 37 he is ranked at No 8 in the WBO rankings and No 14 by the IBF.

The WBO belt, held by Joshua and set to be in the mix for his proposed undisputed title fight with Tyson Fury, could later become fragmented because Oleksandr Usyk is expected to face Joyce for the interim version.

That would leave, currently, just Joseph Parker or Junior Fa, Andy Ruiz Jr, Frank Sanchez and Michael Hunter between Zhang and the title.

"None of those names scare me," says Lane. "None of those names give me chills. We don't want to avoid any of those fights."

The WBO route is Zhang's plan, he explains: "This is the secret sauce in boxing.

"Zhang has to win on Saturday, he has to look good, he has to dominate the fight.

"After that, we need to step up against a big name. Once he wins that, it cannot be denied that he would be in the mix for a world title shot.

"There is a unique opportunity with Zhang and the Chinese market and we are inching closer to a world title shot.

"The musical chairs that is the professional boxing game, things change quickly. It is within the realm of possibility that, within a couple of fights after Saturday, Zhang could be there."

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