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Miriam Onyango

Zhilei Zhang And Joseph Parker To Clash In Riyadh Co-Feature

Zhilei Zhang and Joseph Parker will square off in the co-feature of Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou on March 8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Parker (34-3, 33 KOs) is fresh off a stunning shock victory in Riyadh last month against Deontay Wilder via unanimous decision. Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) had a breakthrough campaign last year, winning two straight stoppage bouts against Joe Joyce.


Zhang’s only loss occurred in a contentious decision against Filip Hrgovic in Riyadh in 2022 and during the bout, he floored his opponent.


Parker, 32, from New Zealand, has won four straight fights after losing to Joyce via 11th-round knockout in 2022. Parker, a former heavyweight champion, defeated Andy Ruiz by a close margin in 2016 to win the vacant WBO title. In 2018, he suffered back-to-back decision loses to Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua.


“For me, it was the best performance of Joseph’s career,” said Parker’s promoter David Higgins in media reports.


“The reason I say that is because those massive, global, pay-per-view fights have a special pressure about them, the eyes of the world are upon you and against his opponent, a murderous puncher, one of the most feared in history, you can’t really describe what that pressure is like until you’ve been in that situation,” he added.


“A couple of times he came up short [in his career], but this time he maintained a cool head, was patient, showed intent, stuck to the fight plan, withstood the pressure. He didn’t just win but dominated Wilder. His doubters and the people writing him off, he’s certainly shut that crowd up. In New Zealand, the leading newspapers said he is back, and he’s got another run at a world title,” he continued.


In addition, Nick Ball will square off against Rey Vargas for the WBC featherweight title on the undercard.


When Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs) of Mexico faced O’Shaquie Foster in February to compete for the vacant WBC title at 130 pounds, he lost the bout. Vargas will be competing for the first time at 126 pounds after the decision loss.


Ball (19-0, 11 KOs) from UK will be competing for the title of world champion for the first time. The 26-yearold British boxer just defeated former champion Isaac Dogboe by a margin of points, which was a career-best performance.

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