Fight fans in Florida last night had the chance to see Chinese Heavyweight hopeful Zhang Zhilei (16-0, 12) [张志磊] take on American local Curtis Harper (12-5, 8). On paper the bout was a step up for Zhilei in some ways, given that Harper had given former world title challenger Chris Arreola a good test last time out, but the reality was that few really expected "Big Bang" to be that tested that much.
Zhilei lived up to the pre-fight expectation of winning, and did so surprisingly quickly.
Harper came out looking anbitious and looked to land some big right hands but Zhile quickly began to read the attacks of Harper and counter them, landing his own more accurate stiff left hands with regularlity. Those left hands of the Chinese fighter seemed to make Harper more wary of unloading his own shots and the American 28 year old began to be backed up. On the back foot Harper looked like a man who knew he was out matched, but couldn't have foreseen the vicious assault from Zhilei that dropped him, almost sending him out of the ring.
Harper to his credit got back to his feet, but stumbled across the ring, forcing the hand of the referee, though he did looked clear headed only moments later, suggesting an early stoppage.
For Harper it was a third stoppage loss, with others coming to Yasmany Consuegra back on debut in 2010 and a 5th round loss to the then touted Gerald Washington. This was however his Harper's first bout in over 2 years and that likely worked against him here. As for Zhilei this was a third straight openign round stoppage this year and extends his current stoppage run to 5 straight wins.
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