Merhy-Zhang final press conference »July 14, 2021
The final press conference took place today in Brussels, Belgium, ahead of the WBA world heavyweight title fight this Saturday between champion Ryad Merhy (29-1, 24 KOs) and challenger Zhaoxin Zhang (10 -1-1) from China. The fighters didn’t have much to say, but here are some quotes from others involved in the various camps.
Alain Vanackère, manager of Ryad Merhy: “Mr. Zhang is from China. His promoter is one of the best in China. I had the opportunity to see him box in November 2019 at the WBA convention in Fuchu. I was very impressed with Zhang, he is very tall and very strong.
“Zhang is a great fighter, who presents a hundred fights in various disciplines, including martial arts. Zhang is 25 years old and is a former elite military officer. He practiced Thai boxing and MMA competitively. After his military service, he took up boxing and turned pro four and a half years ago. He created a surprise in 2019 by winning by KO1 against Chinese hopeful Zulipkaer Maimaitiali, for the WBA Asia belt. He then conquered the WBC OPBF belt and won by KO9 for the WBC Asia title in December 2020. He is champion in a country of 1.6 billion people. And champion of Asia, a continent which is home to 4.5 billion inhabitants. If that doesn’t mean anything. We know Ryad Merhy in Belgium for his boxing skills and his human qualities. Everyone knows he has an exceptional career. At 24, we tried to get a world title against Goulamirian. We knew it was a bit early, but if we hadn’t made it by then we would have had to wait a long time. He rose to the challenge and failed. Didier Malchaire’s documentary “Resilience” retraces the path that Riyadh followed after this defeat to return to the highest level.
Bilal Ben Sidi, coach of Ryad Merhy: The preparation went well. We went to Fuerteventura for an internship where we did a lot of preparation, focusing on Lerena. We left with the whole team so we had our sharing partners: Kamel Kouaouch and Hervé Hubeaux. When we got back, we first worked with a left-hander. With the change of opponent, we tried to get back on our feet. We adapted and Ryad trained with the French Samuel Kadje: strong, tall, same physique, same kind of boxing as Zhang. Ryad made his rounds, he drilled well, turned well. He is ready.
Like all the boxers here, Ryad is thirsty. He wants to box again. This is his first defense, everything must be done, everything must be proven. But Riyadh is there, he is more ready than ever. The Goulamiran episode made him grow up, it made him even hungrier and it motivated him even more. “
Hector Bermudez, coach of Ryad Merhy: Ryad is the world champion. Of course, he’s in good shape. Of course, he’s going to get the knockout. This fight does not ask any questions. The real fight is the undercards: Miko Khatchatryan, Antoine Vanackère, Hovo Martirosyan. “
Hongbao Ren, Zhaoxin Xhang’s trainer: Zhaoxin is in very good condition, he is in very good shape. It is the first time that he has left China to fight. It was a hero’s dream for Zhang to become a kung fu fighter. After his military service, he went to a boxing gym and knew it was his destiny. It was there that he discovered his passion for boxing. Zhaoxin did not have an amateur boxing career. He went straight to pro boxing. There are few professional boxers in China. But there is a lot of interest in amateur boxing, probably because of the Olympics. “