There is no doubt about it, Joe Joyce took a big step backwards due to his stoppage loss to Zhilei Zhang. Going into last night’s fight, Joyce was the interim WBO heavyweight champion and he was kicking the door down for a world title shot. Joyce was also calling out everyone from Oleksandr Usyk to Tyson Fury, from Anthony Joshua to Deontay Wilder. Now, unless he can win a rematch with Zhang (and there was a rematch clause in place going into last night’s fights), it will be a long road back for “The Juggernaut.”
And at age 37, Joyce doesn’t figure to have time on his side. At all. However, Teddy Atlas, casting his knowledgable eye over the potential fallout from last night’s upset win from Zhang, suggested it might not be all bad news for Joyce. Atlas, writing on social media, put forth the notion that Joshua might now like the idea of a fight with Joyce. Atlas also said that Joyce could score himself a big win if AJ did now agree to fight him.
“Silver lining in every dark cloud, and for Joyce it might be that this poor performance will now entice Joshua to fight him,” Atlas wrote. “And if it does, you never know, if Joyce lands a right hand on that at times porcelain chin of Joshua, could be broken dishes.”
But would Joshua look at taking a fight with Joyce now? What would there be for AJ to win now that Joyce no longer holds even an interim belt and now that he has no unbeaten record? Wouldn’t this fight be all risk and zero reward for AJ? And Joshua has told us he will not be fighting again until December. But Atlas is right to suggest a Joshua-Joyce fight would still be interesting. In the UK, it’s entirely possible Joshua Vs. Joyce would be a sell-out.
But Joyce needs time to think, he needs time for his battered eye to mend. The last thing Joyce should do now is make any hasty decisions. But in the heavyweight division, one comeback win can be all it takes for a guy to be back on top of the world, or back at the top of the world rankings. But again, Joyce is 37 (he turns 38 in September), and it is possible he grew old overnight during last night’s losing fight.