Tonight on both sides of the pond Joe Joyce and Richardson Hitchins step in the batter’s box in crucial spots of their careers. For Hitchins it’s a full step up in class facing a tricky and tough vet in Jose Zepeda. Redemption and revenge is at stake along with Joe Joyce’s championship hopes versus Zhilei Zhang. Let’s begin with breaking down the rematch in Wembley Arena live on ESPN+.
The vast majority of the boxing world including this guy thought Zhilei Zhang’s gas tank issues would be his undoing in April. As it turned out Zhang peppered Joyce with heavy left hands all night resulting in a TKO win, closing Joe’s right eye up in the process. We all know Joyce gets hit way too much but his chin and gas tank reserves were suppose to eventually wear out Zhang. He did a good job of working the body and although his jab landed well it was easily countered. We all know Joyce is slow handed but he was somehow even slower that night.
Joyce did come in light so will see if that changes on the scale. Keep an eye out for Zhang on the scale as well to make sure he was 100% focused on the rematch. On Tuesday’s podcast during John Einreinhofer’s segment he brought up a great point pertaining to the most viable path to victory for Joe given what happen in their first meeting. Joe Joyce must attack from the opening bell in search of a brawl and a knockout in the first half of the fight. The longer this fight goes the more comfortable Zhang will be landing his left hand.
If Joe has this great chin and stamina everyone talks about then he might as well put it to the test right from the jump. Not saying this will be the second installment of Hagler vs. Hearns but we should get a spirited battle given the circumstance. The ease in which Zhang was able to land his left hand on the outside is stuck in my head therefore this boxing junkie is leaning that way in the rematch. However it will be well worth taking a flyer on Joyce ranging from +105 to +115.
My Official Prediction is Zhilei Zhang by Majority Decision
On the DAZN side of the street from sunny Orlando, Florida Richardson Hitchins steps up in competition taking on the always crafty Jose Zepeda. Every since signing with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom USA Hitchins has been looking for a big fight. This Saturday he will have found a quality opponent to show his level. Hitchins isn’t known for having much power but he does have defensive skills as an outside boxer with plenty of hand speed and accurate punching. Zepeda can box very well and bang to. Although he may be on the downside of his career Jose will give a good account of himself on Saturday. Jose had a decent amount of success and it appeared he would go the distance in his most recent loss to Regis Prograis. Then Regis caught Jose with a left hand and follow up punches he couldn’t recover from in the 11th round.
Back in 2020 Zepeda engaged in a fight of the year war with Ivan Baranchyk and since then Jose hasn’t been the same fighter. Zepeda has a great jab that he will no doubt have to employ along with being a more than capable counter puncher. The problem is Hitchins won’t be the one recklessly engaging like Jose Ramirez or Ivan Baranchyk. Instead of playing the defense role were going to see Zepeda have to come out of his shell and become the aggressor.
We must not forget about the possibility of Hitchins trying too hard to make a statement, maybe just maybe he will fall into that trap. If that doesn’t happen, look for Richardson to be on the move or at range scoring points with his jab to the head and body. Lead or counter power shots and then reset out of the pocket will be a key for Hitchins. The southpaw stance and skill of Zepeda will take some time to adjust and find success for Hitchins. That said, all though nowhere near Jose’s talent, Hitchins did at least face a southpaw his last time out. As long as the Richardson fights smart he will get his hand raised. Word to the wise for those putting some underdog money on Zepeda who’s a +300 and above, make sure to back it up.
My Official Prediction is Richardson Hitchins by Unanimous Decision.
Side Note: Don’t you dare miss the co-feature bout on DAZN between Jessica McCaskill and Sandy Ryan.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio