After decision victories in each of his first two ONE Super Series kickboxing bouts, the 21-year-old knocked out Australia’s Tyler Hardcastle after just one minute and 54 seconds in Shanghai, China.
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Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, June 15, 2019
It was a thrilling way to claim victory in front of his compatriots in the Baoshan Arena, and Zhang explains that he was delighted to win so spectacularly.
“I feel very happy that I could win,” he says.
“Also I feel very lucky, too, because sometimes you don’t always get the reward your effort deserves. So I’m really grateful.”
Zhang said he always plans to win inside the distance if possible, and his plan was always to get the finish in the first or second round.
Mission accomplished, then. But while many in the arena were surprised at how swiftly he dispatched Hardcastle, Zhang was not among their number.
“You need to be prepared for every possibility in the match so yes I expect the best, but I am also ready for the worst,” he adds.
“During the match, I could feel that I was performing better than him, and I was waiting for him to make a mistake.
“I noticed he had a gap through the center of his guard, so that’s why I decided to try the uppercut.”
His shot selection worked perfectly as Hardcastle fell to the canvas and forced the referee to call the match without any need for a count.
Zhang’s victory also took the record for local athletes to a perfect 5-0 on the night as they made their compatriots proud on a memorable evening for Chinese martial arts.
“Muay Thai Boy” was more than happy to play his part and give his supporters something to cheer.
“I felt excited and proud to compete in front of Chinese fans in my homeland, and I was delighted to show them a great match,” he adds.
“[I want to say] thanks to all the fans for supporting me and watching me grow. I will reward you by continuing to improve as I get better as a martial arts athlete.”
Rather than dwell for too long on his past glories, Zhang is already contemplating his next test.
With three consecutive victories, he will be one of the leading contenders for a shot at the inaugural ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Title when it is created.
However, the man from Shenzhen does not want to get too caught up with talk about competing for the gold when nothing has been made official yet.
Instead, he insists he will stay focused on his training, and he will be ready to go whenever the ONE Championship matchmakers call him about his next bout.
“No matter who, when, and where, I will be there, and I will be ready,” he says.