Nickname Big Bang

CHINESE FORCE OF nature Zhilei Zhang is now in his 10th year as a professional following an amateur career that marked him out as a future star.

In April 2023, at Wembley Arena, Big Bang exploded his full force on Juggernaut Joe Joyce and parted the Londoner from his WBO Interim heavyweight world title.

Zhang forced the stoppage of Joyce by referee Howard Foster in sixth round having inflicted severe damage to the the right eye of the previously unbeaten champion.

He repeated the feat and maintained his WBO status with a more spectacular destruction of Joyce in the September rematch, knocking out his fellow Olympic silver medallist in the third round, an outcome that resulted in him voicing the name of Tyson Fury in the aftermath.

His undefeated run, however, came to an end when he defended his WBO belt against Joseph Parker in Saudi Arabia on the Knockout Chaos card in March 2024. Despite knocking over the challenger in both the third and eighth round, Parker rallied and triumphed by a majority verdict on the judges’ scorecards.

The now 40-year-old won bronze medals at the 2007 and 2009 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics, all in the super heavyweight division. Zhang also featured at the 2012 London Games where his interest was ended at the quarter final stage by a certain Anthony Joshua who, of course, went on to take gold.

Two years later, the big southpaw announced that he would be turning pro and a quickfire debut took place in Fallon, Nevada, where Curtis Tate was dispatched in a matter of 17 seconds.

Zhang then continued to blaze a trail through the heavyweight ranks with a sequence of emphatic victories that took place in the USA or his native China. His first genuine test came in a second defence of his WBO Oriental title in his 20th fight against the redoubtable Ukrainian Andrii Rudenko in Monte Carlo.

The heavyweight gatekeeper was clearly outpointed and Zhang placed his name on the boxing map.

A victory over Devin Vargas followed before his credentials were seriously tested by Jerry Forrest in Miami, with the fight scored a draw. Quick knockouts over Craig Lewis and Scott Alexander were then recorded before Zhang got the call for an IBF final eliminator against the unbeaten Croatian Filip Hrgovic.

Somehow, Hrgovic maintained his unbeaten record against Zhang in Jeddah, despite the older man putting his opponent down in the first round and dominating big chunks of the fight. All three judges scored in favour of the Croatian by a narrow margin.

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  • born2 May 1983
  • place of birthZhoukou, China
  • residenceBloomfield, New Jersey, USA
STANCE Southpaw
1 June 2024 | Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Zhang vs Wilder

Zhang – TKO 5

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