In a brutal finish, Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) retained his WBO interim heavyweight title with a one-punch third round knockout victory over Joe Joyce (15-2, 14 KOs) on Saturday night at the OVO Arena in London, England.
After dominating the first two rounds, Zhang landed a scorching right hook to the head of Joyce in round three that put him down face first on the canvas. Joyce failed to beat the count. It looked like he got up right at the ten count.
“I’m disappointed. I have to reflect and watch the fight back because and see where the mistakes I made,” said Joyce to Queensberry after the fight.
“Hats off to Zhang. He’s a great fighter, and I’m sure he’s going to be in some great fights next, but I’m going to have to rebuild and, yeah, come back, go a different route. [Dubois] Possibly.
“Yeah, that’d be an interesting fight. He’s got a new coach, and he seems to be improving. So if the people want to see it, then that could be a possibility,” said Joyce.
Boxing 247 will give live updates/results below of the action on the Zhang-Joyce II card. The event starts at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
– Anthony Yarde (24-3, 23 KOs) looked great, stopping Jorge Silva (22-9, 12 KOs) in the second round in a light heavyweight bout. Yarde knocked down the 40-year-old Silva with a left hand.
As soon as Silva got to his feet, referee Marcus McDonnell stopped the fight. The time of the stoppage was at 2:07. Yarde lost his last fight to IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev earlier this year in January.
– Super middleweight contender Zach Parker (23-1, 17 KOs) beat 40-year-old Khalid Graidia (10-13-4, 2 KOs) by a seventh round retirement. Graida opted not to come out for the eighth.
– Undefeated light welterweight Pierce O’Leary (13-0, 7 KOs) defeated Kane Gardner (16-3, 7 KOs) by a one-sided ten round unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 100-90, 99-92, and 99-92.
Preview: WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang intends to make Joe Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) regret his decision to activate his rematch clause when the two fight tonight at the OVO Arena in London. Joyce, 38, and his fans believe it was just a bad night for him, something that easily be fixed in the rematch against the big southpaw Zhang.
If things go well for Joyce, he’ll avenge his loss, recapture his WBO interim belt, and face IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk next year.
Zhang obviously will have something to say about that, as intends on sending Joyce into retirement by targeting his lead eye, closing it up, and forcing a stoppage.
Zhang showed last time that he had the hand speed, power & technical boxing skills advantage. That’s not going to change for the rematch tonight.
So, for Joyce to win, he’ll need to tire out Zhang by fighting at a frantic pace that he can’t keep up with and then go for the knockout in the second half of the bout.
Given Joyce’s eye issue, he can’t afford to let the fight go the distance because Zhang could close up his right eye again and force a stoppage.
“I thought it was very eye-opening the first time they fought, and he came in 15 pounds lighter than he normally does. So, going in the opposite direction is probably a good thing. He might have gone a little too far because he’s heavier than I think he’s ever been, but I think he’s going to need the size,” said Chris Algieri to ProBox TV about Joe Joyce coming in at 281 lbs last Friday at the weigh-in for his rematch tonight against Zhilei Zhang.
“It didn’t help him in the first fight. He was slower than usual. He was lethargic, and he wasn’t as durable. So I’m not saying it was definitely the weight, but I remember seeing him on the scale and seeing abs on him and the fact that he was 15 pounds lighter and being like that. ‘That’s not good for a heavyweight,’ especially when you’re fighting another super heavyweight.
“So the idea that he’s heavier coming into this fight against another super heavyweight it’s probably a good thing, but we’re only going to know when we actually steps into the ring. But Joe Joyce his path to victory is the path to victory that it always is for him because he really only has one thing. It’s durability and pace.
“He’s a big, strong, athletic guy. He’s not a traditional boxer. He doesn’t have like a stellar jab; there’s no there’s no standout technical aspect that he does. He’s just super durable, and he’s really, really big. He’s athletic, he comes forward, and he throws a ton of punches.
“A heavyweight that big, and the guy can throw a thousand punches in 10 rounds, he’s pretty amazing in that sense, and I don’t think being overtrained or weight-drained is going to help him in any way based on that kind of style and what he’s going to need for Zhang.
“There’s no question about Zhang. The way to beat Zhang is his pace. He’s had problems with his endurance in the past. If he fights at a slow pace, he’s the technically better guy, and he’s going to be able to pick Joyce apart like he did the first fight.
“So, I think for Joyce to be successful in this fight, he’s got to do what he used to always do and set a pace and push Zhang and make him fight because if he stays on the outside like he did last time and doesn’t throw a ton of punches, he’s going to get eaten up again,” said Algieri.