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The Big Bout in Riyadh: Joseph Parker To Face Zhilei Zhang's Might on March 8th

The boxing world once again turns its eyes towards Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as on March 8th, anticipation builds for an event that promises to be more than just a spectacle. Anchoring the undercard of the much-anticipated, yet controversial, Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou bout, is a fight that could determine the next challenger to a world title — Joseph Parker versus Zhilei Zhang.

Joseph Parker vs Zhilei Zhang on Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou undercard
Joseph Parker will face a dangerous test in Zhilei Zhang, as both fighters vision championship fights.

Joseph Parker, the New Zealander with an impressive record of 34-3, including 23 knockouts, which saw him previously become a Heavyweight Champion of the World. After facing setbacks against Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, and more recently Joe Joyce, Parker's career seemed to be on a downward spiral. However, a decisive victory against Deontay Wilder in December last year has thrust him back into the limelight, the 33 year old could be set to regain his world title.

On the other side of the ring stands 'Big Bang' Zhilei Zhang, the WBO interim heavyweight champion, whose record of 26-1-1, with 21 knockouts, speaks volumes about his prowess, his sole defeat a controversial loss to Filip Hrgovic, a fight many thought the Chinaman won. Zhang, known for his aggressive style and formidable strength, poses a significant threat to any opponent he faces.

An eleventh round stoppage victory from the Brit, handed the kiwi his first defeat by stoppage
Joe Joyce handed Joseph Parker his third career defeat, becoming the first man to stop the kiwi in the process.

Joe Joyce is a name that both fighters have experienced in the ring, but both with a different tale to tell. For Parker, it was a night to forget in facing the Brit, who handed him his third career loss. Parker fought the then undefeated Joe Joyce on 24 September 2022 at the AO Arena in a fast-paced bout where both men landed power punches. Joyce was able to bloody Parker's nose and open a cut above his eye by fighting on the front foot and using his jab to set up his attacks, while Parker used the left hook and overhand right effectively.

A thunderous left hook knocked Parker down in the eleventh round. Though he stood up, the referee halted the fight to declare Joyce the winner by eleventh-round knockout. The result made Joyce the first to stop Parker, who had never been knocked out.

Zhang become the only man to defeat Joe Joyce in his professional career, doing so on two occasions.
Zhang handed Joe Joyce two stoppage defeats in their meetings.

However, for Zhang, his meetings with Joyce told different stories, having stopped Joyce on both occasions of meeting in the ring, handing Joe Joyce both of his professional career defeats to this day. Styles make fights but one thing is for sure, Zhilei Zhang's power is no joke.

Fight Analysis:

The upcoming bout between Joseph Parker and Zhilei Zhang on March 8th in Riyadh presents an intriguing clash of styles, between the jab heavy Parker and the KO artist Zhang. This fight will not just a test of physical prowess but also a battle of wits and tactics and it is intersting to see who will come out on top.

Parker's Strategy: For Joseph Parker, the key to victory lies in his mobility and boxing skill, like with his fight with Wilder, he will look to avoid the powershots and potentially smother Zhang in close exchanges. Known for his quick hands and ability to move around the ring, Parker will need to utilize his footwork to avoid Zhang's power punches. His trainer, Andy Lee, is likely to have him employ a hit-and-move strategy, making use of in-and-out attacks to score points, with the gameplan likely aiming for a points victory. This approach was effective in his fight against Deontay Wilder, where Parker showcased his ability to outmaneuver and outbox his opponent.

However, Parker's strategy comes with risks. While his movement can be an asset, it also opens him up to Zhang's counterattacks, which could see the fight end in any given moment. Parker must be wary of Zhang's ability to close distance quickly and deliver powerful blows. The key for Parker will be to strike a balance between aggression and caution, ensuring he scores points while avoiding Zhang's heavy hands.

Zhang's Approach: For Zhilei Zhang, the fight against Parker is an opportunity to assert his dominance in the heavyweight division and earn himself a shot at a title. Zhang's strategy will likely revolve around his strength and reach advantage that he will look to impose in this bout. He will aim to cut off the ring and force Parker into exchanges where he can utilize his power and hurt the Kiwi.

Zhang's aggression, however, must be measured. Over committing or becoming too hungry to land big shots could leave him vulnerable.. Zhang will need to be patient, working behind his jab to create openings rather than rushing in.

Who wins this mega clash in the Heavyweight division? What's next for the winner and what does a loss in this fight mean for them? Join the conversation in the comments below!


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