Zhilei Zhang isn’t going anywhere.
The hard-hitting Chinese heavyweight will remain a Queensberry Promotions-affiliated fighter for the foreseeable future, according to the British company’s founder Frank Warren.
Zhang notched the biggest win of his career last Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London with a brutal third-round knockout of the once highly-regarded Joe Joyce in their 12-round, contractually-stipulated heavyweight rematch. Joyce was counted out by the referee upon absorbing a brutal right hook from Zhang.
Five months earlier, in April, the unheralded Zhang bucked the odds by stopping Joyce inside six rounds. Joyce, who has been signed to Queensberry since 2019, then activated his contractual right to a rematch.
In response to queries about Zhang’s promotional status, Warren made it clear his company still had options on the Chinese southpaw, although the veteran promoter would not elaborate on the number of fights remaining. Zhang, who trains out of Bloomfield, New Jersey, is managed by brothers Terry and Tommy Lane.
“He’s promoted by us, we’re his promoters,” Warren told a group of reporters after the fight. “He’s got fights with us, don’t you worry about that.”
Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) has had a rocky promotional ride since he turned professional in 2014. He began fighting under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom in 2019 but parted ways with the company after Zhang lost a disputed decision to Matchroom-backed Filip Hrgovic.
Zhang’s alliance with Queensberry could lead to a potentially lucrative showdown with WBC titlist Tyson Fury, who is also backed by Queensberry. (Fury is also co-promoted by Las Vegas-based Top Rank.) After Saturday’s fight, Zhang wasted no time calling out Fury.
Of course, Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) has his own business to tend to in the short term. The Manchester native will be taking on former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou on Oct. 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in a 10-round non-title bout.
A fight with Fury could be delayed for Zhang if Fury decides to pursue a fight with unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk for all four major titles upon defeating Ngannou.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.