WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) scored a highlight reel third round knockout of Joe Joyce (15-2, 14 KOs) in their rematch on Saturday night in front of a stunned crowd at the OVO Arena in London, England.
The way the fight ended, with Joyce peeling himself off the canvas after being dropped face first by a right hook from Zhang that he never saw, you got to wonder if this is the end of his career. That was by the kind of knockout that will be difficult for the 38-year-old Joyce to come back from it he even tries.
During the knockout sequence, Joyce attempted to throw a painfully slow right hand, and Zhang knew what was coming and unleashed a right hook that would have bowled over a dinosaur. The power behind that right hook was enormous, and what made it worse was that Joyce never saw it.
Zhang backed Joyce in the third round, and tagged him with a perfectly timed right hook that flattened ‘The Juggernaut,’ putting him down on his face where he lay seemingly paralyzed for several moments before he climbed off the canvas.
Zhang wants Tyson Fury next
“This is how exactly I do in the training, and I carry that to the ring. That’s it,” said Zhang when interviewed by Queensberry after the fight.
“I’m just lucky. I think my luck comes from my hard work. Everybody should work hard if you want to be lucky. I could definitely feel the difference, but as I said at the press conference. The heavier, the slower,” said Zhang when asked if he could feel the difference in Joyce with his added size, bulking up to 281 lbs.
“When I had no fights, you turned me down,” said Zhang when asked by journeyman Derek Chisora if he would fight him.
“I was very close to making a fight with Tyson Fury until Joe Joyce activated his rematch clause. Now, no more barriers, the road is clear. Let’s do it,” said Zhang about his wanting to fight Tyson Fury next. “The same thing. Yeah, Chinese power and Chinese beef,” said Zhang when asked what would happen to Fury if he fought him next.
However, the fight was halted just as Joyce got up, which is a good thing for him because he looked in bad shape and would have been dropped again by Zhang. The time of the stoppage was at 3:07 of round there.
In round two, Zhang had nailed Joyce with a number of hard, causing swelling under his left eye. There had been little action in the round, but Zhang went on the attack in the last 30 seconds, surprising Joyce, who was getting hit at will and unable to fire back.
Joyce had swelling under both eyes at the end of round two, and it was clear that if he continued to take punishment from Zhang, one or both of his eyes were going to give him problems.
Immediately after the fight, Zhang said, “Do you want to see me shut up Tyson Fury?” Zhang had been asked which champion he wanted to fight next, and he made it clear that he preferred to face WBC heavyweight champion Fury rather than IBF, WBA & WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk.
Boxing fans want to see Fury & Usyk fight for the undisputed championship before Zhang gets a chance to fight one of them.
Fury likely won’t agree to fight Zhang because he can make more fighting Usyk, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder or doing crossover fights against non-boxers.
Anthony Yarde stops Jorge Silva
In the co-feature bout, light heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde (24-3, 23 KOs) massacred Jorge Silva (22-9, 12 KOs), stopping him in the second round. Silva went down under a storm of shots, and the fight was halted when he got back up.
Super middleweight Zach Parker (23-1, 17 KOs) stopped Khalid Graidia (10-13-4, 2 KOs) in the seventh round.