Chinese boxing heavyweight ‘Big Bang’ Zhang Zhilei targets 2022 run after TKO on Lopez-Kambosos card
- The Beijing 2008 silver medallist stops American Craig Lewis in second round to bounce back from disappointing draw in February
- ‘2022 here comes the Big Bang,’ says Zhang, who wants revenge against Anthony Joshua for London 2012 quarter-final defeat
Undefeated Chinese boxing heavyweight Zhang Zhilei will be targeting a run towards title contention in 2022 after an impressive second-round TKO of Craig Lewis at the weekend.
The 38-year-old Zhoukou, Henan native extended his record to 23-0-1 (18 KOs) with victory on the undercard of new unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jnr’s shock split decision win over Teofimo Lopez in New York City.
“I’m grateful for my family, friends and my team for trusting me – 2022 here comes the Big Bang,” Zhang wrote in a post on his Instagram account after the fight.
Lewis (14-5-1, 8 KOs) had lost five of his last six outings, taking the fight on a week’s notice after a two-year lay-off, but had never previously been stopped.
The 1.98-metres tall Zhang – a super heavyweight silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – started slowly but knocked 37-year-old Lewis down twice in the second round with two straight left hands.
The American journeyman looked out of his feet after the first knockdown, but was allowed to continue by referee Shada Murdaugh.
The ringside doctor stepped in after the second knockdown, however, ending the eight-round bout at the 2:10 mark of the second round at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“Big Bang” Zhang, who fights out of Bloomfield, New Jersey, is rated No 13 at heavyweight by the IBF and No 8 by the WBO.
With the win, Zhang – who signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing last year – bounced back from his disappointing majority draw in February against Jerry Forrest, another American journeyman.
Zhang had started that bout in strong fashion on the undercard of the super-middleweight title fight between Canelo Alvarez and Avni Yildirim, scoring three knock-downs in the first three rounds.
However, he faded badly in the later rounds, with Forrest taking one scorecard 95-93, and the other two judges seeing it 93-93. Zhang, who was also deducted a point for excessive holding, was rushed to hospital after the fight with kidney failure and anaemia.
Zhang, who knocked out American Curtis Tate in 17 seconds on his professional debut in 2014, has previously said he dreams of a clash with stablemate and former champion Anthony Joshua on home soil in China.
The Briton beat Zhang on points in their amateur quarter-final bout at the London 2012 Olympics, en route to the gold medal.