Olympic Rival Calls Out Anthony Joshua at Professional Level – “It Would Be Huge for Boxing”

Published 12/21/2021, 12:30 PM EST
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – DECEMBER 03: Anthony Joshua looks on ahead of the IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Title Fight between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua during the Clash On The Dunes Public Work Out at Public at the Investment Fund office complex on December 03, 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is willing to re-match Oleksandr Usyk in early 2022 for his lost world titles. However, he is also grabbing call-outs from several top-rated fighters. Once the unbeaten kingpin, Joshua no longer has a flawless resume. He has lost twice and both times against massive underdogs in Ruiz Jr. and Usyk.

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Having said it, there are ample blueprints on how to beat ‘AJ’. In that case, former Olympic rival Zhilei Zhang is also willing to have a shot at Joshua. Zhang lost the Olympic finals in 2012 against Joshua and missed his shot at gold. The Olympic silver medalist, however, has been undefeated as a pro-boxer.

Relying on his 23-0-1 record, the Chinese KO-artist has envisioned a potential fight between him and ‘AJ’. In an exclusive chat with Fight Mag, Zhilei Zhang talked about the idea and also hinted at a venue for the bout.

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‘Big Bang’ said, “I would love to fight AJ in China because of our amateur backgrounds,”

“The venue is there, the Bird’s Nest holds 100,000, so we have it all. Beijing and Shanghai are the biggest cities, very economically developed and boxing in China is growing. The sports fans there like boxing, they like AJ, so if we can make it happen it would be huge for boxing.” (H/T:- Boxing Scene)

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38-year-old Zhilei Zhang is 6’6” tall, standing toe-to-toe with Anthony Joshua. Meanwhile, the Chinese boxer is a southpaw and can clearly leave AJ devastated in-ring. We saw how Oleksandr Usyk used his southpaw stance to outbox Joshua in a 12-round slugfest. Hence, Zhang can also have a chance against his former opponent. But Joshua is still in the title mix and can ignore Zhang’s desire to face him.

What’s waiting in front of Anthony Joshua?

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After a lopsided defeat against Usyk, an immediate rematch may not fetch extraordinary results. But Joshua has vowed to regain his belts and has claimed to offer a violent game plan this time. He also has the chance to step aside and let Usyk compete against WBC champion Tyson Fury in an undisputed heavyweight title fight.

Boxing – Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk Weigh-in – The O2, London, Britain – September 24, 2021 Anthony Joshua during the weigh-in Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Joshua has proclaimed nothing from his end. He will reportedly return somewhere in early 2022 and has begun preparations.

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As the current heavyweight scenario demands sheer activeness, Joshua shouldn’t contract another loss in his resume. Or he shall lose his top-tier position.

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Raj Sarkar

3041 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. Combining his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports, he has earned a combined 3000 plus bylines over the last two years.

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