Zhang Accuses Hearn Of Protecting Joshua By Avoiding Him

January 8, 2024
3 months
Zhang Accuses Hearn Of Protecting Joshua By Avoiding Him

Zhilei Zhang has accused Eddie Hearn of protecting Anthony Joshua after the news the Brit will fight Francis Ngannou.

Deontay Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker ruled out a fight with the Bronze Bomber. Following Joshua’s win over Otto Wallin, Hearn lined up three names for the heavyweight’s next fight. Nagnnou, Zhang and Filip Hrgovic were mentioned. The decision was made to face the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Ngannou’s stock has slightly increased following his impressive boxing debut against Tyson Fury. Despite losing a split decision, he dropped the WBC heavyweight champion in the third round and made it to the final bell. Some in the boxing community, including Carl Froch, felt Ngannou should have been given the decision. A Joshua-Ngannou fight may now suffer less criticism, but Zhang has accused Joshua’s team of avoiding the fight.

Zhang On Hearn

“I never thought this fight would be made. I think there’s one more person, Eddie Hearn, who will not let Anthony Joshua fight me. It’s too much of a risk. When I signed with Matchroom a couple of years ago that was one of the conversations we had. My management team flew to London and sat down with everybody to talk about it. It’s been years since that, and this fight never materialised. They know how to successfully avoid this,” Zhang said 

In reality, a fight against Zhang was the least likely option. A win over the Chinese makes Joshua the WBO interim heavyweight champion in line to face the winner of Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk for undisputed.

But given that the IBF mandatory will be called first, it made more sense for Joshua to fight Hrgovic, the interim champion for that belt. It would also likely be for the full title since the winner of Fury-Usyk must face Hrgovic or be stripped, which is likely due to their rematch clause. A fight with Ngannou then offers Joshua a huge payday, which may have been hard to turn down.

Zhang Accuses Hearn Of Protecting Joshua By Avoiding Him
Instagram: zhileibigbangzhang

Zhang On Joshua

“You can’t help [but] think what is happening to boxing right now. My team approached them [Joshua’s team]. We had this conversation and then next thing you know he is fighting Ngannou. I can’t really say I’m disappointed. It’s a matter of personal choice. When you look at Ngannou, he’s somebody from a different sport. All of sudden he’s the cash cow. Everybody thinks if I were to fight Ngannou I’ll make a ton of money. What is boxing at the end of the day? Is it a business or is it a competitive sport? That’s the question,” Zhang stated

But Zhang may end up getting his super fight. Reports have linked him with a Deontay Wilder fight on the same card as AJ-Ngannou. If he can get that fight and stop Wilder as he did against Joe Joyce on two occasions, it will set him up for more big bouts at this late stage of his career. And at 40, Zhang may have a few big fights at the top level.

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