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Zhilei Zhang vs. Jerry Forrest rematch possible

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By Jeff Smith: Heavyweight contender Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (22-0-1, 17 KOs) and Jerry Forrest (26-4-1, 20 KOs) are likely to fight an immediate rematch after the two battled to a 10 round majority draw last Saturday night at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Zhang lost a point in the ninth round for holding and leaning on Forrest with all his weight. The holding & leaning tactics that Zhang used in the fight are ones that he’d been using and getting away with, but this referee Frank Gentile wasn’t going to put up with it.

The scoring for the hang-Forrest fight:

  • 95-93 – Forrest
  • 93-93
  • 93-93

Zhang needs a win

Promoter Eddie Hearn feels that WBO #8, IBF #15 Zhang, and Forrest need to fight again to clarify which of the two are better. The Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn promotes Zhang, and he must pass this hurdle against Forrest for him to move on to bigger and better things.

Hearn would like to match the two-time Chinese Olympian Zhang with IBF/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua in the future, but it’ll be a tough sell if he can’t clear up his draw with Forrest.

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The 37-year-old Zhang looked like he was on his way to a victory early in the fight, dropping American Forrest three times in the first three rounds of the contest.

But after the third, Zhang gassed out as a result of the body shots that Forrest was continually hitting him with. Forrest was attacking nonstop, and the 6’6″ Zhang couldn’t keep up with the pace.

It was as if he was still fighting with the conditioning of a three-round amateur fighter. When Saturday’s contest with Forrest went beyond the third round, Zhang had nothing left in the gas tank.

It was fortunate for Zhang that he could make it to the end of the 10th round, as he was exhausted and hurt in the last round.

Zhang showed excellent punching power and counter-punching ability in the first three rounds, but he looked totally spent by the fifth.

He was still catching Forrest with nice shots occasionally through the eighth round, but they weren’t frequent enough to put him on the canvas as he’d done earlier.

Hearn wants Zhang vs. Forrest rematch

“You got to respect Jerry Forrest. He was gonzo,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV. ” Zhilei Zhang looked really good for four rounds, counter-punching with great, great power, and then he completely gassed because Forrest was working the body and working him over.

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“But I thought Zhang would get the fight. When I looked back at the fight, it was 10-8 in three rounds, and one point deducted [from Zhang in round nine].

“I suppose I gave Forrest the other six rounds. It’s an interesting one. I think I’d like to do a rematch with Jerry Forrest. If it were a 12 round fight, Zhang was in big trouble.

“So I think that Zhang has got to do better and show more, but I know he can fight, and he was impressive like I said for four or five rounds. But big respect to Jerry Forrest,” said Hearn.

It might be a better idea for Hearn to move Zhang in another direction than Forrest because he’s got too much power and stamina for him to have a good shot at beating in the rematch.

If the two fight again, the heavy-handed 32-year-old Forrest will target Zhang’s midsection right from the start and likely wear him down quicker this time.

If Zhang can land some of his big shots, he might knock out Forrest, but I wouldn’t bank on that happening. Forrest showed an excellent chin with how he was able to get up off the deck three times in the fight.

Now that Forrest knows that Zhang will only be dangerous in the first three rounds, he’ll be coming after him full bore early to wear him down.




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