Zhilei Zhang vs. Joseph Parker Fight Prediction

by | Last updated Mar 8, 2024 | boxing

Zhilei Zhang (26-1, 21 KOs) vs. Joseph Parker (34-3, 23 KOs)

When: Friday, March 8, 2024

Where: Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Weight Class: Heavyweights: 12 Rounds

Betting Odds: Zhilei Zhang (-230), Joseph Parker (+175)—Odds by Bovada

Fight Analysis:

Zhilei Zhang will battle Joseph Parker for the interim WBO Heavyweight belt on March 8 in Saudi Arabia. Beyond that title is the hope that the winner of this fight can move on and take on the winner of the main event between Joshua and Ngannou. This is a very interesting fight between the red-hot Zhang, in the midst of a career renaissance at age 40, and the resurgent Parker, back in the thick of things after scoring an upset unanimous decision over Deontay Wilder in December. Who should we get behind in this fight?

Zhang is really an interesting study, the first-ever contending heavyweight from China. A silver medalist in the 2008 games, his career plodded along earnestly without any major spikes. A disputed decision loss to top prospect/contender Filip Hrgovic showed his class, but the Joe Joyce camp considered him easy pickings and after two KO defeats, were forced to think different, along with the rest of the boxing world. A hulking heavyweight who was 278 for his last win and 6’6,” he has quickness that belies his appearance and age, snaking in that jab and swift southpaw leftt with great effect.

Granted, Zhang’s scope of success is pretty narrow—some decent wins, but a rep mostly based on two wins over the highly-imperfect Joyce. Not to impugn the Englishman, a fellow Olympic silver medalist and an unbeaten top contender at the time. But Joyce is getting up there and his defensive deficiencies were exposed against the sharp-shooting Zhang. Against Parker, Zhang will be asked to quell a more well-rounded fighting product.

The win over Deontay Wilder was most unexpected for Parker, still only 32. After a WBO championship run from 2016-18, which ended at the hands of Anthony Joshua, he seemed to fall off the map. A loss to Dillian Whyte, also in ’18, really cooled his jets and he toiled for years. A few wins over Derek Chisora led to a fight with the aforementioned Joyce, who issued Parker his first-ever KO loss with an 11th-round stoppage. So, he was really considered damaged goods leading up to the Wilder fight, a name-guy Wilder could surely vanquish. And for him to win the way he did, not with some fluke punch, but to outpoint Wilder so clearly in a near-sweep over 12 rounds while avoiding that murderous power showed that those who shoveled dirt on Parker after the Joshua and Whyte losses, and definitely after the Joyce loss, had done so prematurely.

Bet on who wins, durations, TKO Y/N? and more at Bovada!

Again, the recent success for Parker is limited, as it is for Zhang. While Parker has a nice body of work overall, it had been years since he scored a big win and his recent dossier was filled with struggle, the two battles with Chisora and the stoppage-loss to Joyce. Maybe Wilder is getting old and the mileage of years being at the top and the grueling trilogy with Tyson Fury caught up with him. Without that laser-assassin appeal, he’s not much of a boxer and Parker really schooled him. In this fight, however, Parker is facing a former Olympic medalist and a seasoned pro with deep veteran know-how. Zhang isn’t a guy banking on one-shot power who is lost without it. He can box. And when he starts zeroing with those straight lefts, they land with a resounding thud. He’s a big man putting a lot of weight into these shots.

Parker has held up reasonably well, going the distance with bombers Joshua and Whyte, while beating Wilder. But he really fell apart against Joyce. Zhang, while seeming more durable overall, hasn’t been in with the same roster of opponents that Parker has. It could be unwise to give Zhang the edge in that category. But despite being older, Zhang has endured less overall ring-mileage. Whereas that could be seen as a deficit in the quality of opponent category, it has also landed him in a spot where he’s 40 and still relatively fresh.

The common opponent type of arithmetic often leads you the wrong way, but I do sense their disparate results against Joe Joyce are revealing and could resonate in this fight. Whereas Parker couldn’t dissuade Joyce enough, Zhang twice took whatever Joyce had and spit it right back in his face. He took shots better. He had more answers. He had the type of well-schooled boxing that could trouble Joyce. But unlike Parker, when Zhang needed a hammer to get results, he found it. Styles do make fights, however, and Zhang will need to make it work in this fight against a far-less available opponent. Parker is no Sugar Ray, but for a heavyweight, he moves well, fires off quick shots, and could present a more-troubling style-matchup for what is still a 40-year old man pushing 280 pounds.

It’s a tough matchup with each man facing potentially damning matchup quirks that might be hard to see right now. I think Parker’s greater shiftiness and all-around game will give Zhang a different look. At the very least, Zhang will have to find Parker, who isn’t going to lay in Zhang’s wheel house and get pumped with straight lefts all day long. I just think that Parker relying on a pure boxing game like that can be countered well by Zhang’s speed and experience, along with Zhang bringing that power-game into play. I think Zhang takes control of this in the mid-rounds. I’m going with Zhang.

My Prediction to Win the Fight:

I’m betting on Zhilei Zhang at -230 betting odds. Parker showed he still has a lot left, but his path to victory may narrow a bit against Zhang, whose tricky and quick southpaw style and thudding power should carry him to a hard-earned win in this battle. Question: Do you bet on football, baseball or basketball games? Did you know that we have professional handicappers that give out free daily picks in those sports?