Zhang vs. Parker the Real Fight to Watch Tonight – Spencer Oliver

By Robbie Bannatyne - 03/08/2024 - Comments

Spencer Oliver is leaning toward Zhilei Zhang’s victorious outcome tonight in the title defense of his WBO interim heavyweight belt against a confident, surging Joseph Parker in their co-feature clash on the Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Wilder Factor

While Oliver likes what he saw from Parker (34-3, 23 KOs) in his recent victory over former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder last December on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Riyadh, he fears that the win may have gone to the New Zealander’s head, making him think he can get away with the same tactics against Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs).

Wilder looked mentally and physically gone for his fight with Parker, so it’s difficult to give Joseph any credit for that victory. Deontay was a textbook version of a washed fighter, and you only think that the Bronze Bomber’s estimated fortune of $50 million has ruined the ambition that he once had.

Before Parker fought Wilder, he was a regular heavyweight. He was seen as on the downside of his career after wasting five years facing exclusively lower-level opposition following his back-to-back losses to Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018.

Parker was easily beaten up and destroyed by Joe Joyce in an eleventh-round knockout in September 2022. That fight showed Parker’s level, so you have to dismiss his victory over Deontay entirely and view it correctly. Wilder is a shot fighter and no longer has the hunger to compete against top-tier opposition.

Parker’s Potential Weakness

“For me, this is the fight of the night. Zhilei Zhang, as we saw against Joe Joyce, he’s big, he’s strong, has quick hands, and his timing is impeccable,” said Spencer Oliver to the talkSport Boxing YouTube channel, talking about tonight’s clash between Zhang and Joseph Parker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

It will be impossible for Parker to get in range to land his shots without risking being clipped by Zhang. What Parker did against Wilder was bend forward with a jab to the midsection, looking like he was stabbing with a sword.

Once Parker noticed that Wilder wasn’t throwing anything back at him, he got confident and went on the attack, and dominated the gunshy former champion.

“If you make a mistake [against Zhang], you get taken out. Zhang proved he’s got the power to take any heavyweight out. Joseph Parker against Deontay Wilder was a brilliant performance. I worry that Parker will have that confidence coming off that victory and will sit too long in front of Zhang. For me, Zhang starts as the favorite,” said Oliver.