Chinese heavyweight daresJoshua to a fight in China



ANTHONY Joshua’s growing worldwide popularity would be enhanced by another fight with Zhang Zhilei, his old rival believes.

China’s Zhilei was floored and outpointed in the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games by Joshua who went on to claim the gold medal.

Six years later Zhilei is unbeaten in 19 fights as a professional and, based in New York City but with his next fight in China on Friday, he believes that he could help Joshua unlock two new markets and increase his global appeal.

Joshua’s US debut is at least a year away, due to his April 13 commitment to Wembley Stadium, and New York resident Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller has been mentioned as the ideal opponent to eventually welcome him stateside. Zhilei trains in New York, which has a population of over half-a-million Chinese people, by far the biggest of any American city.

According to the Chinese heavyweight, China has a top market and great business opportunities plus great atmosphere for boxing.

“Joshua always fights in the UK. If he doesn’t want to take the chance and fight in China, we should fight in the US.

“I’m the only heavyweight people want to follow in China. I got a lot of fans from China asking me when my fight will be and what my training looks like. People want to know about me. This is one of my biggest motivations,” he said.

“We’re two years away from saying we can sell out the Bird’s Nest in China. I think Joshua’s going to be a global figure, and therefore I’ve got to give him a global platform. I was in Shanghai last week and we were talking. As soon as you show people pictures of Joshua knocking someone out, they get excited.”

Four years prior to their 2012 meeting, Zhilei had won an Olympic silver medal in his home country. He was beaten by Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle in the final. In 2012, he was knocked down by Joshua and lost 15-11.

“I do remember very clearly. I went inside the ring thinking the only way to win that fight is to knock him out, which was the wrong strategy and got me over anxious. Now me and my trainer Shaun George are working on a lot of good stuff in the ring. People will see that I’m totally different,” Zhilei assured, as he looked for the opportunity to exact revenge. – Sky Sports

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