By Charles Brun: A nervous-looking Eddie Hearn says he’d be open to doing a fight between Anthony Joshua & Zhilei Zhang in China if the “money” is right. Hearn states that he’s still currently interested in making the Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder fight.
If enough money is offered from someone in China, Hearn would be interested in letting Joshua (26, 23 KOs) fight Zhang there.
Interestingly, Hearn feels that Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) isn’t on Joshua’s level, and he points to AJ’s narrow and, some say, questionable 15-11 victory over Zhilei in the 2012 London Olympics.
That was a very, very close fight, and it was a long time ago before Joshua began showing signs of mental & physical deterioration. This writer had Zhang beating Joshua, but it wasn’t surprising that he lost. After all, the fight took place in London.
Joshua vs. Zhang possible
“I said to you that he’d [Joyce] get stopped inside six rounds. Joe Joyce is a great guy. He’s 38, he’s taken a huge amount of punishment in sparring and in fights, and his greatest asset was his ability to take punches and walk through them. He can’t do it anymore,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about Joe Joyce.
“Yeah, absolutely,” said Hearn when asked if he would do the Joshua vs. Zhang fight in China. “AJ’s always fancied that fight. He beat him in the amateurs. It was a good fight [in the 2012 London Olympics]
Zhang is clearly fighting on a higher level than Joshua, who looks mentally shot, with his punch resistance & self-confidence gone and not coming back.
Even if Joshua were still in mint condition, coming out of the 2012 Olympics, Zhang would be too much for him and hammer him into the earth. The fact is, Joshua was never that good of a fighter to begin with, and the only reason he went this far is due to Hearn’s careful match-making.
“Yeah, of course. Money talks,” said Hearn on whether he’d be open to doing Joshua-Zhang in China. “We’ll talk about that fight, no problem. We want to make the Wilder fight. Zhang’s an easy [fight for Joshua]. It’s still dangerous, but why not?” said Hearn.
“Zhilei Zhang is a good fighter. He’s not an elite heavyweight, in my opinion, but he’s a world-class heavyweight. When I say ‘Elite,’ I’m talking, like top three, four, or five in the division. No, not really. I think there’s an argument he could creep into number five, but he’s a lovely man,” said Hearn when asked if Zhang is a top five heavyweight in the division.
At this point in Joshua’s career, he’s NOT a top five heavyweight anymore and would lose to all of these fighters:
Andy Ruiz Jr.
The look on Hearn’s face when he said, “Zhang’s an easy” fight for Joshua didn’t match his words. He was saying words for effect but didn’t believe them.
Hearn obviously knows if he throws Joshua in with Zhang, the two-time Chinese Olympian will destroy what’s left of his career, which is on its last legs as it is.
Joshua is utterly shot, a prime example of a fighter who has been on the front lines of a war for too long and can longer handle the heat of battle.
AJ looks like someone in the trenches, shaking with fear each time an artillery round or a bullet whistles by overhead. He doesn’t belong in the warzone anymore, and he would be destroyed even worse than Joyce.
With the apprehensive look on Hearn’s face when he was asked about his interest in matching Joshua against Zhang, it’s clear that he knows that AJ is shell-shocked at this point in his career.
Now, it’s just about putting him in a cash-out fight with Deontay and scooping up the gold. Joshua will be shattered by Wilder, and Hearn won’t be able to pick up all the broken pieces of him afterward to ramp up for another cash-out fight.
Joe Joyce = “punching bag”
“I saw the fight. We watched it. You can’t come in two stone nearly heavier than the last fight if you’re just going to be a punching bag, and that’s what he was tonight,” said Hearn about Joyce. “He was a punching bag.”
It was a crazy idea for Joyce to have taken the rematch with Zhang in the first place, and you have to wonder who in his camp made the decision to go in that direction.
Joyce should taken a couple of confidence-building fights against some local lads before getting back in the thick of things against world-level competition.
“He wasn’t in the fight at any moment,” said Hearn. “He was getting pinged left, right, and center, and it was a horrific knockout. I think his punch resistance is not what it was. That’s why I thought he’d win the first fight, but I said to you in the interview. He’ll get stopped within six rounds. He’s not the same fighter.
“No. That would be dangerous,” said Hearn when asked if he’d make Anthony Joshua vs. Joyce. “He [Joyce] shouldn’t be boxing. He’s had a great career, and he should have been Olympic champion [in 2016]. He’s won the [WBO] interim World Heavyweight, so I’m sure he’s made a lot of money as well.
“People around him will know. You can’t get hit. AJ punches as hard as Zhang, with much more speed. It’s not so right fight to make. You have to protect these guys,” said Hearn about his lack of interest in making a fight between Joshua and Joe Joyce.
“It’s a car crash, that fight, a car crash. Zhang is quite ponderous and quite slow but a good southpaw, who can bang a little bit. AJ punches as hard with speed. It would be [a mismatch]. Joe doesn’t need that fight. He’s had a great career, and let him enjoy his life. He can’t keep going in and taking punishment,” said Hearn.