Parker vs Zhang Results, Scorecards and Analysis

Joseph Parker produced another smart performance to outwork the massive Zhilei Zhang in their heavyweight blockbuster in Riyadh on Friday night.

Parker (35-3) was on the floor twice as ‘Big Bang’ (26-2-1) detonated two shots onto his head, but outside of that he was not able to do much against an opponent who was quicker, sharper and busier. And the New Zealander it was who claimed victory on the scorecards.

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Zhang came into the bout on the crest of a wave after those two mightily impressive defeats of Joe Joyce in 2023, but Parker was also impressive in defusing the threat of Deontay Wilder last time out.

While Zhang (291lbs) clearly carried huge power in his fists, his engine would not allow him to work hard enough to unload those power shots often. He was outworked comprehensively outside of the knockowns, allowing Parker to claim the WBO interim heavwyeight title.

There is a one-way rematch clause and that means there will be a do-over. Zhang has many questions to answer while Parker is one step closer to becoming a two-time heavyweight champion of the world.

Joseph Parker Tyson Fury heavyweight boxing riyadh saudi arabia
Joseph Parker is congratulated by Tyson Fury after his heavyweight victory over Zhilei Zhang in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8, 2024 (Photo – Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing).

Parker vs Zhang Round-by-Round

Here is how the big fight unfolded in Riyadh on Friday night:

Round 1

A circumspect opening by Parker as Zhang controls centre ring and forces the New Zealander to operate against the ropes. Zhang lands a sweet left hand behind that pawing right jab to get things warmed up. Parker responds with a lovely hook and a body shot. A difficult round to score with neither man willing to show too much in the early stages. Both feeling each other out.

Round 2

The size difference between the two men is truly astonishing – Parker outweighed by more than three stones. He eats another Zhang left early in the session but comes back with shots of his own. A lovely left hook lands to the jaw of Zhang, and he also brings out that overhand right that had Deontay Wilder in so much trouble last December. Zhang has yet to really uncork that blockbusting left just yet, but it’s early days.

Round 3

The chess match continues as Parker uncorks a couple of body shots early in the third and for a while Zhang once again looks reluctant to commit. All that changes with just under a minute remaining when he blasts Parker to the canvas with a beautiful straight left hand. Parker beats the count but he’s struggling for the remainder of the session. Now bleeding from the nose. Advantage Zhang in a big way.

Round 4

Cracking comeback round from Parker, who recovers from the knockdown in third to really come out of his shell in the fourth. He mixes in body shots and hooks to at least get Zhang’s attention, knocking the Chinese giant off balance with one lovely left hook. It is of course like hitting the bowling ball and Zhang just nods when the shots land…

Round 5

Another encouraging session from Parker as he again produces the better work. Zhang seems content to look for the big money shot while Joseph produces more punches, and crisper punches. Again he’s going to the body and then mixing in head shots as that overhand right comes into play. Will Zhang’s stamina come into question here too? Remember he gassed VERY badly in that draw against Jerry Forrest. Trainer Andy Lee is telling him to get to the second half of this one. Clearly team Parker believe the Chinese star may fade down the stretch.

Round 6

Zhang is playing a dangerous game here, throwing an average of three power shots a round. He’s giving Parker the opportunity to potentially steal sessions with a few punches of his own. We reach halfway after a round which did not give us much in the way of entertainment. At this stage Parker must be elated with the way he’s been able to recover from that third-round knockdown. Zhang meanwhile, needs to start unloading more.

Round 7

Zero urgency in the Zhang corner and their man comes out for the second half, again just pawing out that right hand but failing so often to unload that huge left. When he does – sneaking it in after a Parker assault – it clearly impacts the New Zealander once again. There is huge power in the back hand of the Chines star, but again he allows Parker to recover and probably boss the rest of the session. He’s picking his shots well – not being greedy and doing just enough to make the judges think.

Round 8

Wow, Parker makes Zhang wake up and take notice with a beautiful counter early in the session. Zhang eats it but it definitely impacted him. He’s starting to breathe heavily and stamina may well be an issue again for ‘Big Bang’. Then – out of nowhere – Parker is on the deck for a second time, and again it’s a regulation punch. This man carries unbelievable power in the most innocent looking of shots. This time it was a chopping right hook to the top of Parker’s head . Parker finishes the session with a lovely right, but Zhang’s round courtesy of that knockdown.

Round 9

We head into the final third of the bout and the big questions is do those two knockdowns from Zhang cancel out the busier work from Parker? Joseph again throws most of the leather in the ninth, landing some nice sharp rights. Zhang does answer with one of those lefts, but not the power of previous efforts. Another difficult round to score, and we could be heading for a controversial finish here.

Round 10

Excellent session for Parker, who again outworks his much bigger opponent. Again mixing in body shots, sharp hooks and overhand rights. Andy Lee says he’s fighting a smart fight, and indeed he is. Zhang looks weary as the session ends but is he playing possum? Six minutes remain and likely everything to play for on the scorecards. DAZN analyst Barry Jones has it 94-94 through 10.

Round 11

Yet again Zhang allows Parker to outwork him comprehensively – excellent session for the New Zealander. He’s really punching sharply and in crisp fashion now. Zhang has a great chin but he doesn’t have the stamina and pop to answer with anything meaningful. At last there is some urgency from the Zhang corner, but does their man have the energy left to empty the tank here?

Round 12

Parker has landed 74 power shots so far against 40 for Zhang, but the Chinese star does have two knockdowns. Parker again produces most of the impressive work in the final session, with Zhang once again looking weary and failing to pull the trigger when necessary. In face he lands ZERO punches in the entire 12th round. To the scorecards we go and Zhang may come away regretting his inability to be more active. Clearly he was worried about his engine giving out. As Andy Lee said, he’s dangerous for the first 30 seconds of a round and then he gets tired. Excellent recovery from Parker from the knockdowns, another astute performance from the former WBO world heavyweight champion.

Parker vs Zhang scorecards

Scorecard 1: 113-113

Scorecard 2: 114-112 Parker

Scorecard 3: 115-111 Parker

Parker wins and claims the WBO interim heavyweight title. He is now the mandatory contender for the title held by Oleksandr Usyk, but there is a rematch clause and these two will now do it again before hopefully one of them gets a title shot in 2025.