BY JACK BURGESS
Joe Joyce was unable to reclaim his former WBO interim heavyweight title as he fell to defeat at the hands of a ferocious Zhilei ‘big bang’ Zhang third round knockout.
A mostly uneventful first round saw Zhang throw with a higher frequency than Joyce.
But Joyce was producing greater movement than in the opening rounds of the first bout, although he was unable to connect with any real shots of his own.
As the fight moved into the second, 40-year-old Zhang exerted total control over the fight, catching Joyce with several blows and taking a grip of the momentum of the fight. Joyce remained gun-shy and was beginning to lose control of the contest in a similar fashion to how he lost it in his first contest with Zhang.
The veteran heavyweight came into the third round, sensing a potential early knockout was in the offing. After another dominant round, it was a left-hand-right hook combination that sent Joyce to the canvas, with the 38-year-old unable to make the count.
As Zhang celebrated another victory over Joyce, the south Londoner was visibly dejected at another demoralising defeat at the hands of Zhang, which leaves Joyce’s career in a difficult position.
Following the defeat, head of Queensbury Promotions and promoter of Joyce, Frank Warren, spoke to the South London Press regarding what was a difficult night for Joyce.
“It was a difficult night for Joe,” he addmited.
“I thought his tactics were superb in the first two rounds. He was negating that southpaw stance and was better at that in the first two rounds than the previous fight”.
“Unfortunately, he lost a bit of composure and a bit of discipline in the third round. But they had a big exchange of punches, and he got hit with a knockout punch, and Zhang catapulted himself into the top 4 heavyweights in the world”.
The nature of the knockout was especially brutal, with Joyce requiring medical attention on the side of the ring due to the ferocity of the punch that sent Joyce down. When asked how Joyce was following the knockout, Warren said: “I haven’t had a chance to speak to him.
“I briefly had a couple of words with him in the ring to ask if he was okay.”
“He’s got plenty of time to make a decision, and whatever he decides to do, and whatever advice people give him we’ll go along with him and do all we can to support him.
“As I said, he’s got to have a think about things and what he’s got to offer the heavyweight division.”
Joyce is now in a precarious position, having definitively surrendered his WBO interim heavyweight title to Zhang and turning 38 years old earlier this week. It’s unclear what potential avenues are on the horizon for Joyce.
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