In an official unveiling on Friday, Matchroom Boxing confirmed the signing of a Chinese heavyweight juggernaut, the highly-ranked Zhilei Zhang.
The undefeated puncher has climbed the WBA rankings and is hell-bent on knocking stablemate Anthony Joshua off his perch.
Fast forward to 2020, and Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is purring at the prospect of watching Zhang up close once again.
Zhang had appeared on one of Hearn’s Monte Carlo shows back in November. He must have been impressed.
Matchroom proudly stated: “Zhang Zhilei has signed a promotional deal with Matchroom.
“Matchroom’s deal with Zhang sees Eddie Hearn’s promotional outfit appointed as the sole promoter of the Chinese star.
“The unbeaten China Heavyweight (21-0 16 KOs) has returned to action in November in Monte Carlo, Monaco with a ten-round win over Andriy Rudenko, seeing Zhang pick up the WBO Oriental title for the third time.”
“Zhang now sits at #11 with the WBO and #12 with the IBF as he aims to convert his prolific amateur career in the pro game.
“Big Bang” is in New Jersey training for his return to the ring Stateside in November.
“The 37-year-old giant wants to put his career into overdrive and prove that he is ready to challenge for a title in the paid ranks.”
“I’m very happy to agree with Matchroom,” said Zhang. “They are one of the best promoters in the world.
“I’m the best Heavyweight coming out of China. I need an opportunity to become the best in the world, which I firmly believe Matchroom can provide.
“With each of us focused on our part, I wish a happy and prosperous future together.”
“The Heavyweight scene couldn’t be any hotter right now, so this is the perfect time for Zhilei to get back into action and throw his name into the mix,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
Zhilei is ready to take on all-comers. He aims for his 22nd win in November.
“The next step for ‘Big Bang” then will be to face his fellow top-class contenders. To get in position for a World title shot.
“We are extremely excited about the partnership with Matchroom,” said Zhang’s advisor Terry Lane, from Lane Brothers Boxing.
“Zhilei is a world-class Heavyweight, and Matchroom is one of the world’s premier boxing promoters. It ‘ss a natural fit, and this puts Zhilei in the mix amongst boxing’s top big-men.
Losing to Joshua at the London Olympics in 2012, Zhang wants revenge. It’s debatable whether signing with Hearn is the best way to speed up his chance, though.
We will find out.