Zhang Zhilei goes from challenger to dead end at 37

No sooner was Zhang Zhilei discussed as a future challenger to Anthony Joshua had the undefeated heavyweight failed to defeat also-ran Jerry Forrest.

Despite dropping Forrest three times, Zhilei failed his audition to be fast-tracked by promoter Matchroom for AJ, potentially.

In his report below, Eric Armit aired his views on the fight and likened Zhang to a ‘three-legged hippo.’

Zhang vs. Forrest by Eric Armit

Jerry Forrest gets off the canvas three times in the first three rounds to fight his way to a majority draw against unbeaten Zhang.

Forrest made a confident start in the opener in this clash of southpaws. He caught the slow Zhang with rights to the head, but a short left hook deposited him on his rump with less than ten seconds remaining in the round.

He was up quickly, and Forrest did not look too shaken. Furthermore, the bell went before there could be any further action.

Forrest gave away lots of height and reached the 6’6″ Chinese fighter. But was more mobile and had quicker hands.

Zhang Forrest Heavyweight
Ed Mulholland

Zhang had the power, and after twice shaking Forrest with lefts in the second, he landed a right hook to the temple, which saw Forrest tumble to the canvas on his back.

Forrest was up quickly and was willing to mix it with Zhang to the bell. It looked all over for Forrest as two rights to Zhang’s head just ten seconds into the third round turned his legs to rubber and sent him falling forwards to the canvas.

ZHANG ZHILEI

Forrest was able to continue after the count, and they both landed some heavy shots. Having survived three knockdowns and six points behind after just three rounds, Forrest had to work hard to get into the fight. He was able to use his slightly better mobility and quicker hands to claw back the lost points, and a clash of heads opened a vertical cut over his right eye of Zhang.

By the eighth, both fighters were so exhausted that it was a question of who would collapse first. Neither did, but Zhang had a point deducted in the ninth for leaning all over Forrest, which helped cancel out the Chinese fighter’s early advantage.

The scores were 93-93 twice and 95-93 in favor of Forrest.

HEAVYWEIGHT RUN

Losses to Jermaine Franklin and Carlos Takam had stymied Forrest’s progress. But with Zhang rated a very flattering No 8 by the WBO, it looks like a good result on paper for Forrest.

Zhang’s flaws are apparent, and this fight re-illustrated them. He is big and dangerous. But he’s about as agile as a three-legged hippo.

At 37, he has gone as far as he is going. Barring a lucky punch, that is.

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.

WBN Editor Phil has over ten years of boxing news experience. Follow WBN us on Twitter @WorldBoxingNews.