On September 23, Zhang Zhilei defeated Joyce again to defend the heavyweight transitional title. Xinhua News Agency
China's "boxing king" Zhang Zhilei won again.
In the early morning of September 24, Beijing time, a few hours after the flame of the Hangzhou Asian Games was lit, in distant London, Zhang Zhilei only took three rounds to knock out Joyce, who was fighting at home, and firmly defended the WBO (World Boxing Organization) heavyweight transitional boxing title belt.
On April 16 this year, Zhang Zhilei defeated Joyce, the transitional boxing champion of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), and became the new transitional boxing champion. Through this competition, Zhang Zhilei became the first Chinese heavyweight to win the World Professional Championship belt, and after that, he can challenge the WBA, IBF and WBO three-material boxing champion Orekosandr Usyk with this achievement to have a chance to hit the "world No. 1" belt. On the same day, his name rushed to Weibo, and people remembered this shy and cute "big man" with a slightly Henan accent.
Embarked on the road of boxing because of his "big size"
Zhang Zhilei's name may seem unfamiliar to people outside the boxing circle, but in fact, before retiring from the Chinese national team in 2014, Zhang Zhilei was the first Chinese heavyweight to sweep the top three of major domestic heavyweight boxing competitions.
In May 1983, Zhang Zhilei was born in Qianzhangying Village, Shichu Township, Shenqiu County, Zhoukou, Henan, with an older brother and an older sister. He has been different from other children since he was a child, and he is particularly prominent and taller than children of the same age. In 1995, by chance, Shenqiu County sports coaches went to primary and secondary schools to select sports seedlings, and found this young man who had just turned 13 years old and was more than 1.8 meters tall in the county seat.
At first, the coach asked Zhang Zhilei to train rowing, and Zhang Zhilei accelerated professionally after unremitting efforts. However, Zhang Zhilei's height began to grow rapidly, reaching 1.95 meters in 1998 and weighing 120 kilograms, which was obviously not suitable for rowing. So, Zhang Zhilei came to the boxing team under the Henan Provincial Heavy Sports Center and embarked on the road of boxing.
The first time Zhang Zhilei put on boxing gloves and officially fighted, his opponent was the champion of Henan Province. He later recounted the experience: "When I went on stage, I didn't know what I was doing in my head, so I had to cover my head and 'Rush!'" Kill! I fought for two minutes, so tired that I lay in the ring and couldn't move. When I got up, I saw that my opponent had been beaten all over his face. The coach later told me that this time it was to test my guts, and my mental quality was not bad, at least I was not afraid. "What Zhang Zhilei learned from the first actual battle is that after arriving on stage, you can't be afraid of your opponent, because the more you are afraid, the more you will be beaten.
From the Beijing Olympics to professional boxing
Since entering the boxing industry, Zhang Zhilei has always been a fighter who combines talent, hard work and excellent results. After switching from rowing to boxing, Zhang Zhilei showed great talent within two or three years and began to win awards in national competitions. In 2008, Zhang Zhilei won the Beijing Olympic boxing runner-up, which became the first highlight of his boxing career. But among the 100 medals of the Chinese delegation at the Beijing Olympics, his presence is not so dazzling.
In 2014, Zhang Zhilei turned 31, and many of his peers had retired, but he made what many considered crazy decisions — to give up past honors and start professionally. There is a shortage of large-level boxing talents in China, and Zhang Zhilei came to the United States to train because there is more heavyweight sparring and training experience.
"Training takes up most of my time, 12 months a year, I train 10 months. The coaches in the training camp said that they had never seen a heavyweight fighter like me, no matter what they trained, they never said that they were tired or screamed, they had never seen it. "After a game, the coach will give Zhang Zhilei a holiday, but Zhang Zhilei always comes back early to train." I'm older and don't want to waste any time. Even after leaving the gym, Zhang Zhilei still saw the sewing needle to hone his "secret weapon", and he carried a 60-kilogram grip strength device with him, which he held whenever he could. "At that time, this punch is like an iron hammer, smashing in."
In August 2014, Zhang Zhilei knocked out Lee Tate in just 17 seconds in his professional debut, giving a glimpse of the other side of Chinese fighters besides agility and speed – crushing the power of his opponents. The nickname "Big Bang" is everywhere. "Every day I have in my head in addition to training and training, watching highlights of classic fighters, learning the techniques of Lomachenko and Usyk, imitating and adding some of my own things to use on myself. I break through myself every day in training, I play in the game, that's perfection, I try to do it with 12 percent of my time. Fans value results, I value process. ”
Zhang Zhilei chose "False Walking Monk" as his appearance music: "I feel that this song is like a true portrayal of my boxing career: I want to run from the south to the north, I want to fight from white to black. ”
"Next, I'm going to challenge for the world championship"
After training like this for nearly a decade, on April 16 this year, Zhang Zhilei defeated the World Boxing Organization (WBO) transitional champion Joyce to become the new transitional boxing champion.
The 37-year-old has won 15 fights and 14 knockouts in his career, and his heavy punches are terrifying, his jaw is as hard as steel, and he has never been knocked out. Amid the shouts of tens of thousands of British fans, Zhang Zhilei pierced Joyce's defense with his precise backhand punches. In the second round, Zhang Zhilei saw Joyce's defensive loophole and punched his opponent with his left hand. As the game progressed, Joyce's purple right eye could barely be opened. After a medical supervision, the referee declared the match over.
Zhang Zhilei's sixth round TKO Joyce tied the WBO World Heavyweight Transition Champion belt around his waist, creating a milestone moment for heavyweight professional boxing in China and even across Asia.
After this victory, Zhang Zhilei appeared in the world boxing scene as a "dark horse", and many people exclaimed that they underestimated the strength under the calm face of this humble Chinese big man. After the game, Zhang Zhilei excitedly shouted out his goal: "I am 39 years old, age is a number for me, because I am self-disciplined, because I work hard, my goal is the world championship, and I will challenge the championship in the next game." ”
And 5 months later, Zhang Zhilei once again used his strength to protect the crown of "Transitional Boxing King".
After winning this fight, Zhang Zhilei became the first Chinese to challenge for the heavyweight world title. Although he holds the mandatory challenge rights of the WBO and can challenge the current heavyweight world champion of the WBO, Usyk, it seems that Zhang Zhilei and WBC (World Boxing Council) heavyweight champion Tyson Fury are more likely to fight, and the two sides have previously negotiated match-related matters and are progressing smoothly, but because Joyce launched the rematch clause, Zhang Zhilei had no choice but to give up the fight with Fury and fight Joyce again. After beating Joyce twice, Zhang Zhilei has cleared all obstacles for himself to challenge Fury. After the game, Zhang Zhilei wore the national flag and was interviewed by the media.
Zhang Zhilei, who was born in 1983, is 40 years old this year, and his age has become a difficult topic to avoid. After winning the match with Joyce on April 16, the on-site host specifically asked Zhang Zhilei's age, and Zhang Zhilei responded: "I am self-disciplined, I work hard, and age is just a number for me." ”
After the competition, Zhang Zhilei also told the audience and the audience around the world that his road was not yet complete, "The next step is to challenge the world champion." ”
What is a "Transitional Champion"?
Transitional boxing championship refers to the fact that when the official boxing champion of a boxing organization does not have time to compete, the organization arranges a match between the two top fighters to compete for the transitional belt outside the official boxing king. When the boxing king has a schedule, the fighter who has obtained the transitional king belt can exercise the mandatory challenge right and directly challenge the official boxing king. In other words, the transition belt means qualification for the top honors.
Integration: Dong Xiaoyan