By: Sean Crose
There was no doubt the 15-1 heavyweight Joe Joyce was going to have his work cut out for him when he battled the 25-1-1 Zhilei Zhang in a twelve round heavyweight throwdown Saturday night in London. Zhang, after all, had won the first bout between the two men back in April, courtesy of a sixth round stoppage. Few, however, likely expected the hard hitting Joyce to to be made such quick work of by Zhang in Saturday’s rematch. Yet quick work for Zhang it was as he put Joyce down and out with a thunderous, nearly perfectly placed right hand in the third.
“I feel very happy,” Zhang said afterward. “Like I said, it would end sooner than the first fight. I did it.” Still, the rising heavyweight had nothing but kind words for Joyce, the man he’s defeated twice in a row within the distance. “Joe’s a hell of a fighter,” said Zhang. “Respect to him. I like him. I respect him. Everyone please cheer for him.” Zhang also indicated he’d like to face WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Whether or not he could defeat Fury might remain to be seen. There is no doubt, however, that Zhang is now one of the top operators in the division.
It can’t be denied that Joyce had showed up to win on Saturday. He flicked his jab effectively and showed that he was certainly in the fight. Zhang simply proved to be too powerful, however. When Zhang hits, opponents feel it – and Joyce was no exception. Still, Joyce was doing fairly well for himself up until the third when Zhang turned the lights out in a flash. Indeed, the third round was nearly over when Zhang caught Joyce flush with his howitzer of a right hook.
Zhang-Joyce 2 ended up being one of the most anticipated matchups of the year not involving world titlists. Although the old guard (Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua et al…) are no longer figurative spring chickens, neither is Zhang. Could Shang successfully take on one of the divisions bigger names? The truth will likely emerge sooner rather than later. Yet, for the moment, at least, Zhang appears happy to savor his victory. “This is what we’re here for,” he said after the fight. “We’re professional fighters. We come here to entertain the crowd. We did it. I hope everybody enjoyed my performance.”
*Image: Top Rank
Send this to a friend