With all heavyweight fight fans braced for a potentially brutal thriller tonight between Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang, there is some unhappiness in the Zhang camp. Why? Because it has been confirmed how British referee Howard Foster will work the fight. Team-Zhang brought up Foster’s so-called rep for stopping fights prematurely. Last week, plenty of people felt Foster jumped the gun in diving in to stop the Fabio Wardley-Michael Coffie fight, this as Coffie was on the ropes but seemingly blocking and slipping most of Wardley’s shots.
The big one Foster received an absolute ton of bad press for was of course the first fight between Carl Froch and George Groves. Foster flew in and halted the fight in the ninth round, this to the absolute disgust of the clearly not out of it Groves. Foster actually received death threats after that fight.
So, has Zhang and his team got a legit gripe here? Let’s for sure hope this doesn’t turn out to be the case. Tonight’s heavyweight clash has got the hardcore fight fans pumped up, and these fans are expecting a real war. Both giant’s have been telling us for weeks that we will get a slugfest, an explosion. The last thing we, the sport, and the two fighters need is for the fight to be stopped prematurely.
Has Foster got an itchy trigger finger when it comes to stopping fights too quickly, or is the accusation an unfair one? Going into any big fight, the ideal situation would be to see both fighters, both sides, going in with zero complaints, with zero issues on their mind ahead of the opening bell. Fighters have enough pressure on their shoulders as it is.
Joyce Vs. Zhang doesn’t figure to be pretty, and both men will almost certainly get hit with a whole load of shots. It’s entirely possible that tonight’s fight could have done with a referee who is known for allowing the fierce action to go on when a fighter is hurt (think a guy like the recently departed Steve Smoger). On the other hand, fighter safety is paramount.
But rest assured, if – and it is an if at this stage and nothing more – Foster does pull the plug too soon, in favour of Joyce especially, there will be hell to pay.
Already, plenty of fight fans have taken to the various forums, expressing their concerns over Foster being the third man tonight. One such fan wrote this: “As soon as Joyce lands a glove on Zhang, Foster will stop the fight.”
A fellow fan shot back with this: “George Groves agrees with you.”
Again, let’s hope both fighters come out safe at the end of tonight’s potential X-rated affair. But let’s also hope the third man in the ring does a good, honest, and fair job.