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Joseph Parker confirms next heavyweight title fight

Joseph Parker’s next fight has been confirmed, with the Kiwi heavyweight set to battle China’s Zhilei Zhang in March for the WBO interim heavyweight title in March.

It had been understood Parker was in line to either fight Zhang or Croatian Filip Hrgovic in Riyadh on March 8, on the undercard of Knockout Chaos, headlined by the Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou main event. It has now been confirmed he will fight Zhang at the event.

Zhang is a powerful 40-year-old nicknamed “Big Bang” and is enjoying a hugely successful twilight to his career.

Last year Zhang stopped Englishman Joe Joyce twice in the United Kingdom — the second time even more impressively than the first, and at about 130kg and 1.98m he would enjoy a size and reach advantage over Parker.

Zhang is also deceptively quick and possesses a dangerous straight left hand.

In the first fight against Joyce, the only man to stop Parker, Zhang won in the sixth round after the bout was stopped by the ringside doctor for the cumulative damage suffered by his opponent.

In the second bout five months later, Zhang knocked Joyce out in the third round with a right hook to the temple.

In a twist, the only loss in Zhang’s 28-fight professional career came via a controversial points decision against an exhausted Hrgovic in Jeddah in 2022 when many observers believed Zhang did enough to win.

While Parker is coming off an excellent performance against Deontay Wilder, he will likely need to match that performance in order to overcome Zhang.

Zhang is ranked as the WBO interim champion behind Oleksandr Usyk (effectively the WBO’s No.2). Parker is effectively ranked fifth on that list and as high as No.4 by the IBF.

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