Time isn’t exactly on Zhilei Zhang’s side. Now 40, the Chinese native was given, at the time, his biggest opportunity, a showdown against Filip Hrgovic.

After 12 rounds and a knockdown scored, Zhang believed he did more than enough to earn the victory. That, of course, didn’t happen.

It was back to the drawing board for Zhang. Ultimately, he was thrown in with Joe Joyce. Expected to lose by most, Joyce was stopped not once but twice, pushing Zhang to the front of the heavyweight line. Unfortunately for him, the division’s two champions, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, are both tied up with one another in a two-fight deal.

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So, in the meantime, Zhang won’t sit around waiting for something big. Instead, he’s getting himself in tip-top shape to take on Joseph Parker on March 8th. For the gigantic contender, a win is all he believes he needs in order to get the next shot at a world title. But while becoming a champion is a lifelong dream, Zhang might be willing to make a bit of a detour.

On that very card, Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou will attempt to take each other’s heads off. Joshua has always been a name that Zhang wanted to square off against since coming up short in the Olympics.

Anthony Joshua 'turned down rematch with Zhang' with Joe Joyce's upcoming  opponent desperate for revenge after Olympics | The Sun


To a certain extent, that’s still the goal, along with becoming a champion. But, a fight with Ngannou also interests Zhang. The former UFC heavyweight titleholder made his debut in 2023 and nearly dethroned Fury. Still, a competitive loss was enough to put him back in another huge fight.

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Zhang isn’t expecting much from Ngannou in terms of a win. Normally, a fighter with consecutive losses and little experience wouldn’t grab his attention. Ngannou though, is different in every sense of the word. So, even if Joshua crushes him, Zhang would be more than willing to face him next.

“That’s tempting,” admitted Zhang to BoxingScene.com when asked if he would fight Ngannou despite a loss. “I might sign up for the job.”

Frank Warren has warned Anthony Joshua that he has “everything to lose” when he enters the ring to face former MMA star Francis Ngannou in March in Saudi Arabia. Ngannou produced a stunning performance in his debut in the boxing ring as he knocked down Tyson Fury in October. The Cameroonian lost the bout but Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn also warned that he is a “dangerous” opponent.

Ngannou stunned the boxing world with his debut performance in the ring against world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in October. The Cameroonian knocked down Fury in the third round but the Brit went on to win the fight on a split-decision.

Joshua also impressed in his last fight where he stopped American Otto Wallin in the fifth round in Saudi Arabia last month.
Speaking to TNT Sports expert Steve Bunce in the ‘When Frank Met Eddie’ show, Warren and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn discussed the upcoming fight and both men are expecting Ngannou to impress once again.
Anthony Joshua 
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Hearn when asked about Ngannou’s display against Fury. “I was in Mexico and everyone was messaging me saying: ‘Are you watching this? He’s just dropped him.’
“I got it so wrong. I thought it was a mismatch and the fight was a farce and I was so wrong. Tyson might have been a little below par but Ngannou comes in as a debutant and I know he’s a stand-up fighter in MMA but it’s not professional boxing.
“It was unbelievable. I just didn’t believe in any sporting arena that a novice in that field could go in and even compete with the top of the top.
“Imagine any other sport where someone could just go on with a little bit of similar experience and I thought he was unbelievable.
“The dangerous thing about Francis Ngannou is that he really believes. He believed that he could beat Fury then, imagine what he’s believing now.
“Now we’ve got tape of Francis Ngannou, only 10 rounds. It must be difficult going in fighting a guy that you’ve never seen box before.”
Warren added: “Tyson wasn’t at his best that night, he trained hard for it but he wasn’t at his best. AJ has everything to lose in this fight. He’s come off a really good win, looked good, done the business in style and he’ll be the favourite on the night.
Three weeks prior to the showdown between Joshua and Ngannou, Oleksandr Usyk will face off against Fury to decide who will be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
During the Joshua and Ngannou press conference, it was heavily suggested the winners of both upcoming fights will face each other in a title fight.
anthony joshua


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