Zhilei Zhang Backed to Become the World’s No. 1 Heavyweight When He Meets Filip Hrgovic in IBF Eliminator | boxing news

Zhilei Zhang is eager for a world title shot and believes he will make that dream come true by beating Filip Hrgovic in Saturday night’s IBF eliminator.

The heavyweight giants meet in Saudi Arabia in order to wrest the spotlight from Anthony Joshua’s title rematch against Oleksandr Usyk, the winner of which looks like one of them will meet.

Zhang, who lost to eventual gold medalist Joshua in the London 2012 Olympics quarterfinals, enters the fight undefeated at 24-0-1 (19 KOs) in his professional career.

Adviser Terry Lane told Sky Sports he believes the 39-year-old can emerge as the number one heavyweight in the world.

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Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang
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Hrgovic and Zhang square off ahead of Saturday’s fight

“Overall, we think Zhang is the stronger and superior fighter,” Lane said, regarding the fight against Hrgovic. “I don’t want to go into details, but we think the fight is in our favor.”

It awaits as an intriguing subplot in the hunt for the favorites to latch on to the heavyweight division belt, both knowing victory will land them mandatory status.

Should he win, Zhang doesn’t want to wait, though it’s unclear when he might deliver a long-awaited title shot.

“Unfortunately, this is out of our control,” Lane added. “Zhang is really looking forward to fighting for the title. We will do everything we can to make that happen as quickly as possible.”

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Hrgovic has questioned Zhang’s fitness levels, stating that unlike his opponent, he is dangerous throughout the full 12 rounds.

Hrgovic is No. 3 in the IBF ranking and also comes in unbeaten with a record of 14-0 (12 KOs), although he hasn’t fought since December 2021 when he stopped Emir Ahmatovic in the third round.

The Olympic bronze medalist has faced trouble finding a willing dance partner in recent months and was due to face Zhang on the Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol card in May before the fight was postponed following the loss of Hrgovic’s father.

“We went through the whole roster, a lot of fighters didn’t want to fight me and I’m glad I found one who wants that,” Hrgovic said at his news conference. “Thanks to Zhang and his team, I think we will make a great fight.

“We’re both big, we’re both big punchers, I think he’s a really dangerous guy, but he lasts a few rounds. I’m dangerous for the whole fight, I’m dangerous for 12 rounds, that’s the difference.”

Zhilei Zhang
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Zhang knocked out Scott Alexander in the first round in May.

Meanwhile, Zhang promised another display of “Chinese might” and vowed to make his country proud in the biggest fight of his career.

He said: “Being here is a privilege for me, of course this fight is important, it is an IBF eliminator, winning this fight would mean that I can directly face the winner of Usyk-Joshua and it means a lot in China and the world sport. boxing in china

“For my last fight 60 million people in China tuned in to see that, I think we will make more history this time, I hope 100 million, I have 1.4 billion people behind me and supporting me, let’s make it happen.” I am fighting for my country.”

Hrgovic: I will fight everyone

Speaking to Sky Sports last week, Hrgovic insisted “the best years of my career” awaited him.

Beyond Zhang, there is no shortage of possibilities.

“I want to fight all the best fighters of this era,” he said. “I want to fight everyone, starting with guys like (Martin) Bakole or (Joe) Joyce, or Frank Sanchez, and then Joshua, Wilder, Usyk. I want to fight everyone, of course.

“I really like all the tough fights, I hope they happen in the next five years.”

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Watch Joshua’s full public workout ahead of his rematch with Usyk

Joseph Parker is due to fight Joe Joyce later this year, the winner of that contest awaits as another possible target.

“Of course, that’s a great fight and facing the winner will be great,” he said. “I think all of us prospects have some that are considered the best like Fury, Usyk, Joshua, but all the rest of us need to fight each other to get the best and have a chance to fight for a world title.

“There are a lot of prospects and good fighters, we need to fight each other. A lot of people are looking to avoid tough fights and get a big payday and that’s it. I would like to fight all these good guys.”

Anthony Joshua’s big heavyweight rematch against Oleksandr Usyk is on Saturday, August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Pre-order Usyk vs Joshua 2 now!

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