Zhilei Zhang believes he’ll hurt Joe Joyce on April 15th

By Albert Craine - 02/28/2023 - Comments

Two-time Chinese Olympian Zhilei Zhang is convinced that he’s got the kind of power that will hurt interim WBO heavyweight champion Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce on April 15th in their headliner at the Copperbox Arena in London, England. Joyce v. Zhang will be shown on BT Sport in the UK and ESPN+ in the U.S.

Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs) got a raw deal with the judges in his last fight against Filip Hrgovic in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator last August in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This time, if Zhang, 39, can score a knockout of the 37-year-old Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs), he can take the judges out of play.

Despite knocking Hrgovic down in the first and hurting him numerous times along the way, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zhang lost by the scores 115–112, 115-112, and 114–113.

Zhang believes the judges may have felt that he didn’t work hard enough down the stretch, and he’s working on improving his conditioning to ensure he doesn’t fade against Joyce.

It’s important for the 6’6″ Zhang to be in the best condition possible because Joyce is known for setting a fast pace, and he’s going to be in his face thie entire time trying to knock him out.

“Joe Joyce has good punch resistance, but he has never felt Chinese power,” Zhilei Zhang said.

We don’t really know if Joyce can handle Zhang’s power because he hasn’t faced any big punchers since turning professional in 2017. Daniel Dubois landed a lot of big shots on the chin of Joyce, but he was bothered by his jab, which took away his offense after six rounds.

It’s important that Zhang hurts Joyce because it’s going to be a punishing fight if he can’t score a knockout. Joyce is coming off a stoppage win over former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker last September in a fight that had a lot of two-way action.

“I have the power to hurt him, and he’ll feel this. If he is a “Juggernaut,” then I am armor-piercing,” Zhang said to Badlefthook.

“I am working on my conditioning mainly. This has had a lot of criticism in previous fights. I need to be ready to go the distance and work for the whole 36 minutes if needed.

“I don’t know what the judges saw. I’d love to ask one of them. I want to focus on improving on each three minutes and give as much as I can now going forward,” said Zhilei when asked why he didn’t get the decision against Filip Hrgovic.

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