Zhang Zhilei 40th Birthday Wish: Tyson Fury Fight



Zhang Zhilei 40th Birthday Wish: Tyson Fury Fight

Happy belated birthday to Zhang Zhilei, the Chinese heavyweight who scored an impressive stoppage win over Joe Joyce on April 15.

“Big Bang” Zhang, who makes New Jersey home, turned the big 4-0 on Tuesday.

I wished him well through his promoter Terry Lane. “I wish he would’ve let us get him a cake or something,” Lane said, “but what does he do yesterday? Goes to the gym!”

Zhang Zhilei v Joe Joyce poster

No cake for Zhang, who celebrated his 40th birthday Tuesday by going to the gym. He knows he is on the cusp of a major league fight—and purse

Zhang is 25-1-1, with 20 knockouts. The two time Olympian turned pro in 2014. It’s been a steady progression to get to here.

“Here” seems to be in a pretty sweet spot.

Zhang grew his fan base in China, with that Joyce win—read about it on NYFIGHTS—shining brightly upon the pugilist.

Also, he gained heavy respect for both his form and his demeanor in England, where he dismantled the favorite Joyce.

Trainer Shaun George lifts Zhang Zhilei aloft after he beat Joe Joyce

Trainer Shaun George lifts Zhang Zhilei aloft after he beat Joe Joyce. A Tyson Fury fight could come next

“The birthday was a big day for the Big Bang,” Lane said. “Know what he wanted and wants for his birthday? We are talking about Tyson Fury in July. That’s what he wants for his birthday!”

Zhang Zhilei v Tyson Fury Next?

I like that one. Zhang is a sturdy 6-6, would weigh close to what Fury usually does. “It’s either us or Andy Ruiz. Ruiz is a much safer fight for Fury,” Lane stated.

If I had a vote, I’d like for Zhang to get the gig. This doesn’t usually factor in to such decisions, but Zhang is by all accounts a good dude. Not that Ruiz isn’t, but it looks like he has extra drama in his life, and yes, he can get sidetracked by ancillary matters.

Oh, and Zhang v Fury is on paper a five times better fight than Ruiz v Fury.

Ruiz, age 33, can tend to get lackadaisical. He looked really sluggish in his last fight, against Luis Ortiz.

Tyson Fury v Zhang Zhilei has a more international flavor to it, now that Zhang has apparently busted through as an attraction in China, not at all a boxing hotbed till now.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.