Fans may have read by now how a heavyweight battle between Joe Joyce and Zhang Zhilei, two guys who have great chin as well as size and power, will collide in London on April 15. A potentially thrilling slugfest of a fight, this one WILL be a lot of fun. Indeed, taking a lead from Zhang’s nickname, this fight will be a big bang.
And both guys, each an Olympian, deserve credit for agreeing to put it all on the line against one another. Joyce’s interim WBO belt will be up for grabs, that and a whole lot more besides. Both men figure to pay a price physically in this one, a fight that could well prove to put a substantial number of miles on the clock of both guys. The winner will be screaming for a shot at a world title, while the loser may have to launch a major rebuild (and may never be the same again).
We all know how tough “Juggernaut” Joyce is. The 37 year old has shown nothing short of a phenomenal chin, while Joyce has also shown a fine left jab, raw power, and a superb engine. Joyce, 15-0(14) and coming off that KO win over Joseph Parker, has been described as everything from any fighter’s worse nightmare, to the boogeyman of the heavyweight division. Now, Zhang will put himself in harm’s way against Joyce as he intends to inflict harm on Joyce.
Zhang, who is the same height as Joyce at 6’6,” and is a southpaw, showed his own rock chin last time out, when he slugged it out in a wild one with Filip Hrgovic. That was back in August, in Jeddah, on the Usyk-Joshua rematch card. The two engaged in an at times messy, at times thrilling, at all times watchable war that saw Hrgovic pick up a controversial 12 round decision. Some had it a draw, while plenty of others felt the man from China deserved the win.
Zhang now has another chance to earn a world title shot. So who wins when Joyce and Zhang rumble? Zhang, 24-1-1(19) is the older man at age 39, and once again “Big Bang” will be fighting away from home. But if Zhang and his supporters are worried about some home cooking being served up to Joyce as far as the scoring of the fight goes, will the judges be needed here? It’s possible this fight goes all 12 rounds, and to repeat, both guys have a great chin. But a KO or stoppage win scored from either side is also a real possibility – and what a massive crash the felled body of a Joyce or a Zhang would make; think Richter-scale level! This fight has the real and genuine look of a violent affair. An X-rated violent affair.
It’s a cliché to sign off with for sure, but with this fight, the real winners will be the fans.