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Zhang Zhilei to debut Aug. 8

6/26/2014 - Boxing

Chinese amateur Zhang Zhilei, who claimed the Olympic super heavyweight silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze medals at the 2007 and 2009 amateur world championships, will make his professional debut Aug. 8 in Fallon, Nevada, Dynasty Boxing promoter Dino Duva announced on Thursday.

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Zhang, a southpaw, will face an opponent to be determined in a scheduled four-round bout on an ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card promoted by Lou DiBella.

DiBella said that the card will be headlined by junior middleweight contender Willie Nelson against an opponent to be named at the Fallon City Fairgrounds.

Zhang, 31, will also have four-time heavyweight titleholder Evander Holyfield as part of his team with newly founded Dynasty Boxing, a partnership between Duva and brothers Tommy and Terry Lane, the sons of Hall of Fame referee Mills Lane.

"Zhang Zhilei has the whole package -- size, athleticism, good looks, and great personality," Duva said. "And one other thing: He knows how to fight. He has more of a pro style than Olympic style.

"Mark my words, once boxing fans get a chance to see him, he will be the talk of the heavyweight division and all of boxing. I believe he is going to be the most important heavyweight to come along since (brother Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko) turned pro in 1996."

Zhang, who has been boxing since he was 15, also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, where he lost a decision to eventual gold medalist Anthony Joshua of Great Britain in the quarterfinals.

Holyfield will serve in an advisory role on Zhang's team, as well as a good-will ambassador for the company.

"We are delighted to bring Evander to the Dynasty team," Duva said during the news conference in New York. "His wealth of knowledge and experience will be a huge asset to our young fighters as they embark on their professional careers. Evander is one of boxing's legends, and we a proud that he will be representing Dynasty as an important member of the team."

Holyfield goes way back with Duva. When Holyfield came out of the 1984 Olympics, he signed with Main Events, which promoted him for a decade and guided him to the undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight titles. Duva spent many years working at Main Events, the family company that used to be run by his late brother, Dan Duva.

"The Duva family is special to me, and I am looking forward to working with Dino Duva and the entire team at Dynasty Boxing," Holyfield said.