Zhang Zhilei will face an unbeaten heavyweight in consecutive fights.
FightNights.com has learned that the Chinese contender will challenge unbeaten Joe Joyce April 15 at a venue to be announced in London. The matchup will feature two Olympic silver medalists - Zhilei accomplished the feat at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, while Joyce got the nod at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Joyce-Zhilei will match huge heavyweights who won Olympic silver medals – Zhilei at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and Joyce at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
London’s Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) is the mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s WBO belt, but the two-division world champion is expected to face Tyson Fury to determine the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the era. Negotiations between the two teams are still ongoing.
Joyce is coming off the most significant victory of his career, a one-punch knockout of former WBO titlist Joseph Parker. Joyce's eviscerating left hook handed Parker the first KO loss of his career during the 11th round of their scheduled 12-round affair last September 24 in Manchester, England. With the win, Joyce was awarded a secondary heavyweight title.
The 39-year-old Zhilei (24-1-1, 19 KOs) dropped unbeaten Croatian contender Filip Hrgovic in the first round of their bout last August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. However, Hrgovic got off the deck to win their very close 12-round IBF title eliminator.