<img src='https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-04/Zhang-Zhilei-China-s-boxing-superstar-eyes-battle-with-Anthony-Joshua-1q60QQQn54I/img/1028ec56ca334935a8e92921dbc421eb/1028ec56ca334935a8e92921dbc421eb.jpeg' alt='Chinese heavyweight boxer Zhang Zhilei has called out Britain's two-time former world champion Anthony Joshua. /CFP'

China’s heavyweight boxer Zhang Zhilei says “everyone in the world” wants to see him fight Britain’s Anthony Joshua as he continues his quest to become world champion.

Zhang previously fought Joshua at the London 2012 Olympic Games – a bout the Brit won – and CGTN Europe understands a fight between the pair in 2024 is currently being discussed.

In a message sent exclusively to CGTN Europe, the Chinese southpaw called on Joshua and his team to get the fight on, but said he believes the two-time world championship’s team are “thinking about how to keep Joshua away from me”.

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“The current match between me and Joshua is not just a personal grudge. Now everyone in the world wants to see this match happen, but there are two people who will not let this happen,” Zhang said.

“The first is Joshua, and the second is his manager Eddie Hearn. Now Hearn is thinking how to keep Joshua away from me in the boxing world.”

<img src='https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-04/Zhang-Zhilei-China-s-boxing-superstar-eyes-battle-with-Anthony-Joshua-1q60QQQn54I/img/6fd46cf1606245e18aab556aeffa3ccc/6fd46cf1606245e18aab556aeffa3ccc.jpeg' alt='Zhang says Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, are trying to find ways to avoid fighting him. /CFP'

Speaking about the possibility of the fight taking place, Zhang’s co-manager Terry Lane said: “This is a fight we’ve wanted for a long time, we thought we were going to get this fight when we were with Matchroom, It never materialized but it’s funny how things work out.

“It’s a fight that makes logical sense now that the Deontay Wilder vs Anthony Joshua isn’t happening, it’s a much bigger fight than fighting Hrgovic and I still believe Francis Ngannou is still looking for an MMA fight. Really this fight does make a lot of sense.”

Zhang, 40, hasn’t fought since his brutal knockout victory over Joe Joyce at London’s Wembley Arena in September – five months after beating the same opponent in the pair’s first fight.

The Chinese southpaw lost to Joshua at the London 2012 Olympics with ‘AJ’ given a 15-11 decision. But Zhang has been keen on the fight for several years, having told CGTN Europe back in 2021 that he’d love to take on Joshua in Beijing.

“The 2012 London Olympics were amateur fights, amateur fights have only three rounds and the fight is finished,” Zhang said three  years ago. “When I fought him, because he was the host, it was very difficult to win against the host. So I chose the knockout way to win.”

<img src='https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-04/Zhang-Zhilei-China-s-boxing-superstar-eyes-battle-with-Anthony-Joshua-1q60QQQn54I/img/13bbc34f516b4dd6a173e36d47f630a4/13bbc34f516b4dd6a173e36d47f630a4.jpeg' alt='Zhang beat another Brit, Joe Joyce, twice in 2023, with two devastating knockout victories. /CFP'

“Then you go to professional fighting. Professional boxing is not the same, he became a professional boxer, there was a good promotional company to help him, and then he has been winning, which is very good. Then I also turned professional and then slowly moved from the amateur style to the professional style. Now, my timing is very mature for everything.”

The date and time of a potential fight is yet to be confirmed, but Joshua’s promoter Hearn told CGTN Europe in 2021 that his fighter rates Zhang and would be open to a fight in China.

“It’s something we’ve talked about actually since Anthony turned pro and it went away because of the inactivity of Zhang. But now he’s back, that actually becomes a serious proposition as we move forward because Anthony Joshua is going to need opponents,” Hearn told CGTN Europe.

“He [Zhang] is extremely intelligent, smart, awkward, tactical and one punch can change anything in the division.

“So he’d go into that fight as a big underdog, but he would have a home advantage. I mean, can you imagine at the Bird’s Nest? It would be absolutely crazy, but AJ has no problem going out there fighting him in his backyard.

“He actually rates him highly. I know he beat him in the Olympics, but he thinks he’s a very, very good fighter.”

<img src='https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2024-01-04/Zhang-Zhilei-China-s-boxing-superstar-eyes-battle-with-Anthony-Joshua-1q60QQQn54I/img/fdd45d8311714f9f96d4cdd7a78fefac/fdd45d8311714f9f96d4cdd7a78fefac.png' alt=''

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