Monday, September 25, 2023  |



Jerry Forrest survives three knockdowns, holds Zhilei Zhang to maj. draw in slugfest

Jerry Forrest
Fighters Network

MIAMI – Undefeated Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang dropped American Jerry Forrest in the first, second and third rounds on Saturday in Miami. It felt as if it might be a quick night at the office for Zhang (22-0-1, 17 knockouts), but it quickly turned into the longest night of his professional career.

Despite the disastrous start, Forrest (26-4-1, 20 KOs) never lost faith. He steadied himself and began fighting back, having moments in the fourth and fifth rounds. Zhang, undoubtedly frustrated with his opponent’s stubbornness, began holding and suddenly looked winded. The body language of the fight had changed.

In the second half of the bout, it was the American coming forward and landing shots on Zhang, who did little more than clinch and lean on his opponent. Forrest’s corner pleaded with referee Frank Gentile to take a point for the excessive holding. Finally, toward the end of the ninth round, Gentile docked a point from Zhang.

Forrest knew he needed a knockout, and came out in the tenth and final round guns blazing. The crowd was on their feet as the battle-tested Forrest landed several hard shots, stunning Zhang multiple times. But now it was the Chinese fighter showing heart, persevering to the final bell. One judge scored the fight 95-93 Forrest, with the other two seeing it 93-93, for a majority draw.

CompuBox credited Forrest with landing 156 of 555 total punches (28%), including 55 to the body. Zhang landed 104 of 311 (33%). According to CompuBox, Forrest outlanded Zhang 88-38 in the final four rounds of the fight.

It was a moral victory for Jerry Forrest, who had won over the crowd at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and a bit of a letdown for Zhilei Zhang. Can he learn and grow from this experience? Only time will tell.

Earlier in the night, super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco went past the sixth round for the first time as a pro. Pacheco (11-0, 8 KOs) got eight solid rounds of work in tonight, scoring a unanimous decision win over Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-5-1, 10 KOs). That experience will no doubt benefit the 19-year-old Los Angeles native as he steps up in opposition.

In the DAZN broadcast opener, Fresno, California native Marc Castro improved to 2-0 (2 KOs) with a TKO2 in over John Moraga (1-3, 1 KO). The 21-year-old junior lightweight prospect made his pro debut just two months ago, on the Canelo-Smith undercard.

Before DAZN started their official broadcast, they streamed three live fights on their YouTube channel. American amateur standout Keyshawn Davis (1-0, 1 KO) impressed in his pro debut, defeating Lester Brown (4-3-3, 1 KO) by TKO2 in a four-round lightweight bout. Aaron Aponte, a junior welterweight prospect from Florida, improved to 2-0 (1 KO) with a unanimous decision win over Harry Gigilotti (6-2, 3 KOs) in a four-round bout. And Alex Espino (7-0, 5 KOs) opened up the card with a TKO5 win over Ashton Sykes (5-4, 1 KO).


Michael Montero can be found on social media via @MonteroOnBoxing. His podcast “The Neutral Corner” can be seen every Monday on TheRingDigital YouTube channel, and heard on audio podcast platforms around the world.


The Canelo-Charlo clash is the cover story to the September 2023 issue of The Ring. Art by Richard T. Slone