Joyce vs Ali Predictions: ‘Juggernaut’ eases back in against troubled Ali

 | March 15 | 

4 mins read

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‘Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce finally returns to the ring this Saturday March 16 when he takes on Kash Ali live on TNT Sports 1. The Olympic silver medalist is looking to rebuild his career after back-to-back losses to Zhilei Zhang in 2023. Joyce had never been defeated or even knocked down prior to those fights, both of which saw him stopped by the Chinese star. Here are the Betfred Insights Joyce vs Ali predictions ahead of a heavyweight slugfest.

Joyce vs Ali Tips

  • Joyce in rounds 1-3 @ 11/10

Joyce must have afforded himself a wry smile while watching the action unfold in Saudi Arabia last Friday. Zhang knocked down Joseph Parker before losing on points. The New Zealander came into the fight having upset former WBC champion Deontay Wilder in his previous fight. Now Parker finds himself right near the top of the division. Joyce knocked Parker out in 2022 and has had to see his old rival leapfrog him while he continues searching for a first win since that fight.

Kash Ali is the sort of compliant opponent that makes sense for a Joyce comeback bid. The 32-year-old is best known for a bizarre disqualification defeat to David Price back in 2019, when the Birmingham-born boxer was ejected for biting his opponent. Ali had basically quit in the fight, trying rough tactics all night to try and get matters drawn to a close. When that didn’t work, he sunk his teeth into Price after driving him to the mat during a clinch. This ignominious display ended any hope of Ali being taken seriously.

Six low-level wins followed for Ali, but last time out he was beaten over six rounds by Bohdan Myronets. Given his reluctance to engage with a faded Price five years ago, it is hard to see Ali launching into Joyce with much ambition beyond survival and a payday. His status here is as a notorious name that a few fans will recognise and as a warm body to give Joyce his first win in 17 months.

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It has been quite the fall for ‘Juggernaut’. Many had him pegged as the best of the rest in the heavyweight division. His rock-hard chin and earth-shaking power had him appearing nigh-on unstoppable at times. Quality names like Parker, Daniel Dubois and Carlos Takam had fallen to his fists. Only Bryant Jennings had even taken him the distance, and the American did the same to Wladimir Klitschko when they contested the heavyweight championship back in 2015.

There were concerns over how many punches Joyce was taking in his fights but they were always quietened by his ability to appear untroubled by them. How could Joyce lose if no one could even hurt him? There came to be two types of Joe Joyce fight: a war or a demolition. Invariably, he would win both.

That is until he met Zhang. It is easy to be wise after the fact and say that Joyce’s fellow Olympian was all wrong for him. But ‘Big Bang’ had looked leaden in a controversial decision defeat to Filip Hrgovic in his previous fight. While some argued Zhang should have won that one, and they had a point, even those advocating for him would have to admit he looked poor in the bout. Given the fact gatekeeper Jerry Forrest had extended Zhang to a draw in 2021 too, it seemed logical that Joyce would have far too much for Zhang.

We now know that was far from the case. Zhang stopped Joyce with a gruesome eye injury in the sixth round of their first contest last April. While freakish in appearance, the ailment was no freak occurrence. Zhang had been peppering the area with punches all night in a superb display. Still, the lack of the sort of “classic” boxing conclusion audiences crave led to a rematch that Joyce arguably didn’t deserve. It would prove to be an unwise decision.

Joyce’s aura of invincibility was irrevocably shattered in the return match, with Zhang knocking Parker out cold in round three. Suddenly the man who could not be stopped was undone in the most brutal fashion. Far from unbeatable, he was rendered a mere mortal, not by the stratosphere-scraping likes of Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk but by a fighter once thought marginally beneath him. Professional boxing, what sweet sorrow.

For all the cosmic melodrama above, Joyce will be absolutely fine against Kash Ali. He’ll probably produce the sort of highlight-reel knockout we used to take as a prerequisite when ‘Juggernaut’ laced up the gloves. And the road to redemption might have diversion signs up these days, but it is not yet closed off. Joseph Parker has shown that. But at the age of 38, it will be a long way back for Joyce. I have him down to start that journey impressively, with a win in rounds 1-3 at 11/10. If Ali was capable of coming through these sort of tests, he’d have done so at least once so far in his 13-year career.

You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page

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