Saturday night sees another colossal fight in the heavyweight division, as the rematch between Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce takes place. I’ve previewed this contest and shared my predictions for how the bout will play out.
Joe Joyce (15-1 (14KOs)) has walked into the last chance saloon, ordered a double scotch and offered out the biggest, oldest, wiliest man in the establishment in Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1 (20KOs)).
At 38 years old, the popular British boxer has exercised an immediate rematch clause with the giant Chinese fighter, and is intending to get his world title charge back on the road.
The ‘Juggernaut’ sustained a prolonged beating in their first fight back in April, which was eventually halted in the 6th round due to an horrific swelling above Joyce’s right eye, which handed the Londoner his first professional loss.
There can be no ifs, buts and maybes about this one. Joyce simply has to overturn that loss or his boxing career will effectively be over.
For the winner, the heavyweight world could be their oyster. With the best currently unwilling to face the best and Tyson Fury taking the Floyd Mayweather exhibition route next month against former UFC champ Francis Ngannou, a shot at the likes of Oleksandr Usyk could very well be on the line.
A packed crowd at Wembley Arena will be sure of one thing. This is unlikely to be a studious chess match – one man will be going down and one man will be left standing with his arm raised.
Where and when is the fight taking place?
The fight is happening at the OVO Arena in Wembley, London, on Saturday 23rd September and will be broadcast live and exclusively on TNT Sports in the UK.
The event is a Frank Warren promotion for Queensbury Boxing, with the show starting at around 6PM and the main ring walk due to take place at around 10.30PM UK time.
What does the full fight card look like?
- MAIN EVENT: Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang – WBO Interim heavyweight title
- Pierce O’Leary vs Kane Gardner – WBC International super-lightweight title
- Anthony Yarde vs TBA
- Sam Noakes vs Carlos Perez
- Zach Parker vs Khalid Graidia
- Ezra Taylor vs Joel McIntyre
- Royston Barney-Smith vs TBA
- Moses Itauma vs Amine Boucetta
- Tommy Fletcher vs Alberto Tapia
- Aloys Youmbi vs Erik Nazaryan
- Sean Noakes vs Lukasz Barabasz
(subject to change)
Who’s the favourite?
Betfred are struggling to split this one, with Zhang a 4/5 shot to repeat his victory and Joyce EVS to gain a form of redemption. The draw is intriguingly priced at 16/1.
What’s been said?
Anthony Crolla did his own fight breakdown for Betfred’s Lightweight boxing show, which you can watch above.
“It’s quite enjoyable to be in the ring with him
He’s not moving his head, he’s not changing his position and angles. That makes my job easier.
He is definitely heavy-handed, but not as heavy as I would have imagined.
I was a little surprised when I first heard about the rematch, I knew he would activate it one way or another. But I didn’t expect it to be so fast.
It’s not rocket science that you can’t change to a different style in a few months, that’s why the second fight will end even quicker.”
“It’s hard when you have a loss and you have to rebuild and it has been tough.
But, I believe I can go back in there again and get it back and I’m hungry to get the title and my mandatory position back.
Yeah, I’m definitely coming in heavier. I kind of always try and watch my weight, to try and keep myself a little bit lighter, but I didn’t expect to go that light.
It was hard to keep the weight on. It was something in my diet that wasn’t agreeing with me, I’ll cut that out and the weight won’t be an issue.
I will be coming in heavier and harder”
Zhilei Zhang to win – 4/5
The first fight between the pair only confirmed what I’ve suspected ever since Joyce strapped on his 10oz gloves in the professional game.
As Zhang said, the Brit is too slow, too cumbersome and too easy to hit. There is no changing that at the age of 38, especially over a short five-month period.
Yes, Joe can punch and has remarkable durability, but Zhang was literally able to land on Joyce at will in their first contest and he will do so again.
For me, the only hope for Joyce is to walk down ‘Big Bang’ ealy and land something to stop the Chinese man in his tracks.
Considering the 40-year-old has never been stopped, that appears unlikely. I see nothing but a repeat here.
Zhilei Zhang to win by KO/TKO/DQ/Technical Decision – 6/4
Doubling down on my earlier pick, I expect Zhang to win this one inside the distance. Joyce was badly hurt at several points in the first fight and Zhang will know to target that vulnerable eye again.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one as a more conclusive stoppage, with Joyce hitting the canvas, possibly on more than one occasion.
Zhilei Zhang to win in rounds 7-9 – 5/1
Zhang has spoken of this fight ending quicker than the first one, which was stopped by the referee at the end of the 6th round.
I’m not so sure personally. Joyce has one hell of a chin and as long as he is still standing and coming forward, referee Steve Gray will allow him to continue in front of his home fans.
With that in mind, I’m going for a more cautious estimate of a stoppage between rounds seven to nine.
*All prices correct at the time of writing.