Big Fights Await Zhilei Zhang As Public Sees Right Through Saturday’s Horrendous Scoring In IBF Eliminator

08/23/2022 - No comments

Boxing fans around the world witnessed Zhilei Zhang punishing the supposed heavyweight boogeyman, Filip Hrgovic, in a Saudi Arabian boxing ring on Saturday night, only to see Hrgovic receive an undeserved unanimous decision. Despite Zhang’s first-round knockdown of Hrgovic and a ninth-round barrage that had the Croatian staggering around with a blank look on his face, the three official scorecards wrongly favored Hrgovic, 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113. The fans present at Jeddah Superdome were not fooled by the official scoring, and they immediately booed as Hrgovic’s hand was raised.

The reaction from the rest of the boxing world was just as decisive as the fans in attendance:

On the DAZN broadcast, commentator Chris Mannix called it a “truly fascinating fight” and “an impressive showing from Zhilei Zhang.” Mannix scored the fight in favor of Zhang.

A Twitter poll by MightyMaxBoxing drew 483 votes, with 71.4% voting that Zhang deserved the win, 10.4% scoring it a draw and only 18.6% believing that the judges got it right.

Rob Tebbutt, who covered the fight at ringside for ID BoxingNews had it 114-113 for Zhang, writing, “A chorus of boos around the arena at the decision. The Saudis want justice for Big Bang… Looking forward to seeing Zhang again after that performance, I must say.”

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NYFights.com’s Mike Woods was even blunter in his assessment, tweeting, “NOPE… not the right call… Zhang should win by 4.”

Boxing insider Jim Karas tweeted: “8 [rounds to] 4 for Hrgovic is criminal. There were at least four rounds where Hrgovic stopped fighting to take a stroll. Zhang won.”

Adam Abramowitz, a member of Ring Magazine’s ratings panel and co-host of the Punch to the Face podcast tweeted, “I had Zhang winning 114-113 in a really entertaining fight… Zhang far exceeded my expectations on Saturday.”

Jake Donovan of Boxingscene.com also scored it for Zhang, 114-113.

Despite a bad decision, the Olympic silver medalist is seeing his stock immediately shoot up as a result of his breakthrough performance, and it looks like Zhang will remain on boxing’s world stage despite his first official loss. Perennial contender Derek Chisora has already issued a mocked-up fight poster indicating his willingness to face Zhang, even in Zhang’s native China. There is also early social media buzz about the possibility of Zhang facing former three-belt champion Anthony Joshua in December. And if WBC champion Tyson Fury can’t gain entrance into the United States, Zhang is willing to accommodate the Gypsy King in the UK or China if such a huge event could be arranged. Any of these options would be welcomed by the 39 year-old Zhang, who didn’t shy away from the hyped-up Hrgovic and doesn’t intend to turn down the biggest fight offered to him next.

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After the fight, Hrgovic was seen leaving the venue in an ambulance, while Zhang, though unhappy with the verdict, was beaming about his strong performance. “As soon as I stepped out of the ring, the fight was history. I desperately want to fight for the world championship, but I especially love putting on exciting fights for boxing fans across the globe. I’d love for fans to see more of the Chinese power. I will be back and will work hard to deliver more exciting fights.”

Zhang’s trainer, Shaun George, was not as forgiving as the boxer. “This was an easy fight to score. I had it 115-112 for Zhilei, 7 rounds to 5, including the extra point for the knockdown. The judges should be investigated. Both Zhang and Hrgovic gave great performances, but fair is fair, and this decision was NOT. Zhilei deserved the win. He should be fighting for the world title next.”

Kurt Li, who is part of Zhang’s management team and has been with him since their days in China, said, “there is fast-growing interest for Zhilei in China. Media and public attention on him has exploded. The fight was shown on multiple leading platforms there, and the Mandarin version of the hashtag #ZhangZhilei accumulated more than 340 million views on Douyin – the country’s leading social media platform. On Zhang’s own social media account, his post-fight interview is currently approaching thirteen million views.”

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Whatever the short-term future holds for Zhilei Zhang, he can take pride in knowing that his career took a big upturn this weekend as both the boxing media and the boxing public saw through the ridiculous scoring that provided Hrgovic with an undeserved win.