Parker vs Zhang: Kiwi reveals MAJOR advantage for Riyadh blockbuster

Joseph Parker believes he has one major advantage ahead of his massive heavyweight showdown vs Zhilei Zhang in Riyadh on Friday night.

The New Zealand star (34-3) locks horns with the Chinese giant (26-1-1) in the co-feature on that blockbusting Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou show (live on DAZN PPV globally and on Sky Sports Box Office).

It’s a huge test for Parker, with both men coming into this eagerly-awaited bout with their reputations at an all-time high.

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Both feature in the top fives of most heavyweight rankings – with Parker coming off that brilliant win over Deontay Wilder and Zhang basking in the glory of back-to-back victories over Joe Joyce.

‘Big Bang’ is currently the mandatory contender for the WBO world heavyweight title currently held by Oleksandr Usyk, and his size and style (6ft 6ins and 287lbs for that second win over Joyce) make him a fearsome adversary.

Parker on southpaw factor

Parker though is reborn right now – reeling off four wins since that loss to Joyce. He also feels he has one key advantage ahead of Friday night.

Speaking to Dev Sahni of Queensberry Promotions, he said: “I’ve only boxed one southpaw in my career. But the great thing in this camp is my trainer (Andy Lee) is a southpaw. So my trainer has a lot of insight. Zhang would have fought so many orthodox fighters in his careers because most fighters are orthodox – same as Andy.”

READ MORE: How Ngannou beats Joshua – big-fight analysis for Riyadh superfight

Parker believes the fighter who lost to Joyce back in 2022 does not exist any more – in his place is a confident and perfectly prepared athlete, ready to execute a strategic gameplan. Exactly what he did against Wilder back in December.

“Going into this fight a lot of people are comparing my fight with Joe Joyce and Zhang’s fight with Joe Joyce – two fights.

“He’s coming off two good wins and supreme confidence, but if I look back at that fight, I’m a totally different fighter now. Joe Joyce beat me that day and he was, that day he was the better man.

“Sitting here in front of you now, I feel like a totally different fighter – physical, mental, and I’m coming into this fight with confidence against Zhang.”

Zhang poses major threat

Parker of course will not underestimate Zhang – he has great respect for what his 40-year-old opponent has achieved in the sport.

“I know what Zhang can do, I know that Zhang is a powerful fighter. He’s done some great things – been to the Olympics twice and now he’s got some great wins as professional.

“So he wants to continue his momentum of getting to fight for the world title. But I have goals and I know what I can do, and I come into the fight ready to take whatever he brings.”

Parker the underdog (again)

Parker was a firm underdog when he took on Wilder late last year, and he will again be battling against the odds on Friday night. Zhang is a 4/9 favourite with Joseph a 2/1 shot. It’s a role the Kiwi says he relishes though.

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“When I look back at the Wilder fight, myself and the team, we were underdog going into the fight. But we were quietly confident in what I could do in the ring because of what we’ve seen in sparring, what we’ve seen in training, the way we’ve prepared for the fight. It gave us a boost being the underdog.

“For that fight, it wasn’t Wilder’s fight, it was my night. I was able to go out there and execute the plan that Andy had in place and put on a great performance and come away from that with a win and a lot of confidence going into this fight and into future fights.”

No challenge ignored

Parker can never be accused of ducking anybody – he will literally take on the very best. He’s met the likes of Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr in the past, as well as Joyce, Wilder and now Zhang.

“You know, as a fighter, you want to fight everyone,” he explained.

“You want to fight everyone and anyone. You know what it comes down to – it comes down to your coach, your team and yourself. When everyone’s on the same page, and belief and confidence in what I can do in the ring, we all agree to it.

“We want to take the best fights out there, the best and the biggest fights out there.”

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