Zhilei Zhang says he was surprised that Joe Joyce chose to activate the rematch clause after the way he was stopped by him last April, but he feels that he had no other choice available.
With the eye damage and the punishment Joyce took five months ago, Zhang it’s too soon to be fighting again, but it’s not going to help him rush back into the ring.
Zhang hasn’t been celebrating like some fighters do after a big victory, eating & drinking like a glutton. He’s not done that, so Joyce could be in trouble.
Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) had to take the rematch. He’s about to turn 38 and not young to slowly rebuild to get in a position to challenge for a world title.
Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) has the golden ticket to a world title shot with his WBO interim heavyweight belt that will be on the line this Saturday, September 23rd, at the OVOArena in London.
The Zhang vs. Joyce II event will be shown live in the U.S. on ESPN+ starting at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT.
Zhang believes that Joyce’s right eye still looks swollen from their previous fight, which caused the contest to be stopped in the sixth after it closed shut.
“I was a little surprised that he activated the rematch clause so fast, but if I put myself in his shoes, he had no options. What else was he doing to do? So the rematch clause was understandable, but it’s not helping him at all. It’s too soon,” said Zhilei Zhang to Fight Hub TV about Joe Joyce choosing to force the rematch.
Joyce is desperate to get his hands on the WBO interim title because he needs that belt to get a shot against IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk next year.
If Joyce can pick up the belt from Zhang, he’ll face Usyk, and if he wins that, putting a fight together with WBC champ Tyson Fury would be simple because they share the same promoter. That’s where the big life-changing money comes in for Joyce.
“Still looks a little swelled up,” said Zhang when asked if he thinks Joyce’s eye injury has healed. “What I was trying to deliver a message to him that, ‘You’re not going to take the [interim WBO heavyweight title] away, but you’re going to take shots.’
“In the first fight, he was taking heavy shots in every round. Because of the eye, I didn’t like the T in TKO. I take it away,” said Zhang about Joyce.
If Joyce can’t get out of the way of Zhang’s left hands on Saturday, he’s going to get beaten up, and his right eye will surely close again.
“Everyone is going to tune in to watch that fight, to be honest. To me, it’s just a money grab, and he [Tyson Fury] and [Francis Ngannou] make money. They’re both happy,” said Zhang about his view on the fight between Tyson Fury & Francis Ngannou on October 28th.
Fury is just lining his pockets while heading out the door, taking the easiest fights that he can to avoid loss. He looks nothing like the bulked-up muscular fighter that bullied DeontayWilder in their second fight in 2021.
Where Fury’s muscles went is the big question. He looked like an offensive lineman in that fight, but he’s looked flabby & old in his last two fights against British fighters Dereck Chisora & Dillian Whyte.
“Right now, I don’t want to talk about it because my whole focus is on Joe Joyce, but anyone at the top is my target,” said Zhang when asked who he wants to fight next if he’s victorious against Joyce on Saturday.
“On Saturday, you’re going to see Chinese power and Chinese speed,” said Zhang.