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'Big Bang' Zhang Zhilei gives big borambutan 8k8ost to boxing in China

中国女排比意大利女排 | rambutan 8k8 | Updated: 2024-07-22 09:59:40

Zhang Zhilei (right) in action. [Photo/Xinhua]

A heavyweight boxing contender from China is a rarity in the sport. Zhang Zhilei has not only made that a reality, but hopes to eventually fight for the undisputed title after a stunning victory over former champion Deontay Wilder on Saturday.

Zhang, 41, knocked out Wilder, 38, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with two right-hand blows in the fifth round of their bout on Saturday at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Wilder had predicted before the fight that he would knock out Zhang.

Zhang redeemed himself after a disappointing decision loss to New Zealand's Joseph Parker three months ago at the same arena, even though he knocked down his opponent twice in that fight.

Zhang held China's national flag aloft after what was likely the biggest victory in his career.

"This is my mission," said Zhang, nicknamed "Big Bang", who is from Zhoukou, in Central China's Henan province. "No matter where I fight, I always want to raise the Chinese national flag. I would like to thank every friend who came here over the world and fans in China; it is midnight there and you are watching me."

Zhang's team said that he was a top trending topic on TikTok during his bout.

"The 'Big Bang' is back! The 'Big Bang' is here!" Zhang said in his post-fight interview.

"This was just another step on my road back to a championship bout. I am calm inside after this fight," Zhang posted on his social media account on Sunday morning, when his victory became a trending topic on multiple online platforms.

On X, "Chinese Bodybuilder" posted: "Maybe the most brutal KO I ever saw in my life. Love this guy. A 198cm bald uncle who won with sledgehammer fists. Nice guy and glad to be there."

"Hero" posted on X: "Chinese power explodes in the world boxing ring!"

Wilder is 6-foot-7, and Zhang is 6-foot-6, but Zhang weighed 282 pounds for the fight while Wilder was only 214, and Zhang put that weight advantage to good use in the fight, delivering crushing blows.

Zhang (27-2-1, 22 KOs) is the No. 6-ranked heavyweight by ESPN and The Ring magazine, and Wilder (43-4-1, 42 KOs) entered the bout at No. 7. The loss could likely spell the end of Wilder's boxing career, as many on social media have speculated, as has Wilder himself.

Zhang became the interim World Boxing Council (WBC) champ in December. Wilder held the WBC title from 2010 to 2015.

Wilder fought another former champ, Tyson Fury of the UK, three times, losing twice, with one fight called a draw. Many boxing observers said that Wilder, known for his thunderous right-hand punch, was not the same after the fights with Fury.

"I successfully took his right hand away," Zhang said after Saturday's fight, through an interpreter. "I blocked a few punches, but hell yeah, he punches hard. I give a lot of respect to him; he's a hard puncher."

Fury also was the longtime WBC heavyweight champ but he lost a decision to Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk on May 18.

Usyk is now the undisputed heavyweight title holder, and Zhang is hoping for an eventual title shot against him, depending on how a few future fights in the division turn out.

While Usyk heads toward a championship rematch with Fury on Dec 21 in Riyadh, Zhang could perhaps seek a rematch with Parker, who was ringside for the Saturday fight.

Another option for Zhang could present itself in September, with a fight against Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium in London, though that opportunity could go to Daniel Dubois, who defeated Filip Hrgovic on Saturday on the undercard of the Zhang-vs-Wilder fight.

In February, Zhang told The Ring from his training venue in New Jersey, where he has lived for several years, "In 2008 I made the Olympics and I got the silver medal, that's when people started to recognize that there's a big Chinese heavyweight that can fight."

Sun Xiaochen contributed to this story.

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