Zhang vs Parker Predictions: ‘Big Bang’ can detonate on Joseph Parker

 | March 05 | 

3 mins read

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Zhilei Zhang faces Joseph Parker in Saudi Arabia this Friday (8 March) live on DAZN. The bout takes place on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou. ‘AJ’ is very familiar to both combatants. Zhang lost to Joshua in the quarter-finals of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Parker lost his WBO heavyweight championship to the Brit in 2018. Now the two heavyweight contenders look to take the next step on the undercard of their conqueror.

Zhang vs Parker Odds

  • Zhang to win @ 4/9
  • Parker to win @ 2/1
  • Draw @ 16/1

Ordinarily, a fight like Zhang vs Parker could fill an arena in its own right. But the Saudi boxing era has been typified by excess and it is refreshing to see a pay-per-view event adding value in this way. There is also the chance to weave a narrative through proximity. A good performance in this fight will surely put the winner in the conversation to meet the victor of the night’s main attraction.

Both men come into this one in fine form. Parker banked the best victory of his career in December, when he dominated Deontay Wilder over 12 rounds at the Day of Reckoning pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia. The New Zealander was expected to be on the receiving end of a punishing beating, but he boxed wonderfully to leave Wilder helpless. Even above his WBO title win, this was the crowning glory of Parker’s career.

Zhang is coming off twin-victories over Britain’s once-promising Joe Joyce. Nobody had so much as knocked down the granite-chinned ‘Juggernaut’ in 15 pro fights, let alone beaten him. Zhang did both, stopping Joyce with a gruesome eye injury in their first bout and by whistle-clean knockout in their second. The Brit hasn’t fought since, while Zhang has parlayed those successes into a big fight against Parker. 

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The tales of these two men show how quickly things can turn around in boxing. Both lost fights in 2022, with Joyce actually knocking out Parker and Zhang being controversially outpointed by Filip Hrgovic. Now after restorative victories each man is close to the top of the heavyweight tree once more. A victory in this clash will put one over the top and title contention will likely follow.

Stylistically, this is an interesting match-up. If you were building a nightmare for Joseph Parker, it would probably look somewhat like Zhilei Zhang. The Chinese fighter has advantages in height, weight and reach. He fights long too, favouring a thunderous jab that left Joyce resembling a horror movie villain. ‘Big Bang’ is also a southpaw, fighting with all the awkward idiosyncrasies that entails. In short, Zhang is the last person you’d want to face if you were Parker.

Zhang’s only defeat came to Hrgovic, someone almost as awkward as himself. It was a strange, stop-start encounter in which the only rhythm established was a quantifiable lack of rhythm. Conversely, what you see is what you get with Parker. He does the basics exceptionally well but there isn’t one element of his game that sets him apart, like Wilder’s power or Tyson Fury’s boxing IQ. Parker has a decent punch, fair speed and good fundamentals. He’s a jack of all trades but a master of none. 

For that reason I’m leaning towards Zhang in this one. ‘Big Bang’ hits harder and has the physical advantages to make this a really tough night for Parker. Unlike Wilder, he won’t wind up for one big shot. Zhang can throw crushing blows off the jab and set up his attacks. Parker has only been stopped once in his career, but I feel like Zhang can be the second man to do so. I’m going for Zhang by knockout at 20/21, possibly late on after some brave resistance from the always-game Parker.

You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page

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