Boxing Results: Zhilei Zhang defeats Andriy Rudenko
By Dean Berman: Heavyweight contender Zhilei Zhang (21-0, 16 KOs) had a tougher time than expected in beating journeyman Andriy Rudenko (32-6, 20 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision at the Casino de Monte Carlo Salle Medecin, in Monte Carlo.
The judges’ scores were 99-91, 98-92, 97-93. Boxing News 24 had Zhang winning by the score 97-93.
Conditioning was a problem for Zhang
Zhang wasn’t in the best shape for this fight, as we saw with the way he was gasping for breath after a strong start in the first part of the fight. He weighed in at a career-high 278 lbs, and looked soft. This was a full 20 lbs heavier than Zhang’s last fight over a year ago in September 2018 against journeyman Don Haynesworth.
The 6’6″Zhang weighed in at 258 lbs for that fight, and he was in much shape. He’s been out of the ring due to injury problems all this time, and took 14 months to come back.
The two-time Chinese Olympian started well in the first five rounds, and it looked like he was on course to pull a stoppage win over the game but limited 36-year-old Rudenko, but he ran out of gas after the midpoint of the fight. This enabled Rudenko to have his moments in rounds 6-10. Rudenko came back strong to land nice shots in the last part, but he was unable to hurt Zhang with anything.
Zhang hurt Rudenko in 9th
In round 9, Zhang nailed Rudenko with a hard right hand to the head that stunned him. However, he quickly recovered and was able to make it out of the round. One reason for that is due to the slow pace Zhang was fighting at. An in shape Zhang would have gone for the finisher once he had Rudenko hurt, but he couldn’t do it tonight. He was carrying around too much baggage.
Zhang had Rudenko hurt again in the 10th with nice one-two combinations, and looked close to being stopped.
Good performance by Zhang
Overall, it was a good performance by the two time Chinese Olympian Zhang. For a guy that had been out of the ring for 14 months, Zhang looked good. He was nowhere near the form that he had when he fought Anthony Joshua to a standstill in the 2012 Olympics in London. Zhang gave Joshua all he could handle in that Olympics, and he was faster and a lot busier than what he showed tonight.
Zhang needs to get in better shape, and stay busy with his career if he wants to take advantage of the little time he has left in the sport. If he can get in shape, it would be interesting to see how well he goes against the likes of Kubrat Pulev, Adam Kownacki, Alexander Povetkin and Joe Joyce.