Time isn’t exactly on Zhilei Zhang’s side. Now 40, the Chinese native was given, at the time, his biggest opportunity, a showdown against Filip Hrgovic.

After 12 rounds and a knockdown scored, Zhang believed he did more than enough to earn the victory. That, of course, didn’t happen.

It was back to the drawing board for Zhang. Ultimately, he was thrown in with Joe Joyce. Expected to lose by most, Joyce was stopped not once but twice, pushing Zhang to the front of the heavyweight line. Unfortunately for him, the division’s two champions, Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, are both tied up with one another in a two-fight deal.

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So, in the meantime, Zhang won’t sit around waiting for something big. Instead, he’s getting himself in tip-top shape to take on Joseph Parker on March 8th. For the gigantic contender, a win is all he believes he needs in order to get the next shot at a world title. But while becoming a champion is a lifelong dream, Zhang might be willing to make a bit of a detour.

On that very card, Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou will attempt to take each other’s heads off. Joshua has always been a name that Zhang wanted to square off against since coming up short in the Olympics.

Anthony Joshua 'turned down rematch with Zhang' with Joe Joyce's upcoming  opponent desperate for revenge after Olympics | The Sun


To a certain extent, that’s still the goal, along with becoming a champion. But, a fight with Ngannou also interests Zhang. The former UFC heavyweight titleholder made his debut in 2023 and nearly dethroned Fury. Still, a competitive loss was enough to put him back in another huge fight.

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Zhang isn’t expecting much from Ngannou in terms of a win. Normally, a fighter with consecutive losses and little experience wouldn’t grab his attention. Ngannou though, is different in every sense of the word. So, even if Joshua crushes him, Zhang would be more than willing to face him next.

“That’s tempting,” admitted Zhang to BoxingScene.com when asked if he would fight Ngannou despite a loss. “I might sign up for the job.”