As fight fans know, this Saturday will see two big heavyweights, both willing to put it all on the line, colliding in London. The fight between former Olympians Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang has been getting plenty of publicity, and rightly so. This fight, taking place at a time when we seem to see precious little lay-it-all-on-the-line fights between heavyweight contenders, is a restoration of faith. Yes, the top contenders DO still take risky fights when they don’t have to.
But who wins the guaranteed explosion / war / slugfest? Both guys match up so well at the same height, at around the same weight, with the same, I-ain’t-going-anywhere style and approach. Fans are indeed braced for an X rated affair.
Southpaw Zhang, 24-1-1(19) and beaten only by Filip Hrgovic via controversial decision last August, believes his timing along with his power will be enough to take down Joyce. “Big Bang” spoke with Sky Sports and he said that in his belief, “no fighter’s chin can be tough enough to handle a perfectly timed punch.”
“I never run from a challenge when an opportunity presents itself,” Zhang said in explaining why he took this dangerous fight. “I talk with my fists. This is part of the dream to become world champion.”
“Juggernaut” Joyce, perfect at 15-0(14), is also aware of the risk attached to this fight.
“It is a risky fight, but it’s exciting,” Joyce said. “Two big fellas are going to collide and it’s going to be a great fight. I could have waited around and had an easier fight, but I thought, ‘why not have a test and stay ready?’ He’s a top fighter…and this leads me on nicely to Usyk or Fury, which is what I’m hoping for – a big summer fight, potentially.”
One cannot help wondering, though, how both Joyce and Zhang come out of Saturday’s fight, how much damage they both ship and how much the fight takes out of them. It could well be that neither guy is fit to fight again for some time after Saturday’s battle. Looking at this one from all angles, it’s tough to see anything other than a long, hard fight, a battle of attrition, of who wants it more – of who’s chin holds up better.
Zhang says he will land the “perfect punch,” while some experts say Joyce has the best chin in the division today by some margin. Zhang too has immense toughness and durability, while Joyce can also land with venom and force. This fight could be seen as immovable object against immovable object.
So, what, or who gives on Saturday night at The Copper Box?