This wasn’t in the script. Joe Joyce, another upcoming UK Heavyweight boxer with Daniel Dubois, was supposed to stop Zhilei Zhang to catapult him into the big time – this was on BT Sport on the UK and ESPN in the US.
Zhang didn’t get the script. Many thought that the 39-year old would provide the step up, the challenge, that Joe needed but not the worry that other heavyweights might provide. Zhang could bang, that much was clear, but Joyce was the choice. As respected boxing pundit Gareth A. Davies told Boxing News 24;
‘These guys re going to lock horns in the center of the ring and keep punching. I would go for Joyce on points.”“Or stoppage, I would say,” said Davies.’
I thought so too. We were both wrong.
It was all about 2 things;
The lack of head movement from Joe Joyce
The left hand from Zhang
Even in the first round, Joe’s lack of head movement was apparent, as he pawed with a jab and his opponent got through with an overhand right.
For the whole fight Joyce stood in front of Zhang and if the gameplan was to take the shots early on, tire Zhang and mop up in rhe last rounds, the chin stayed strong, but the rest of the face didn’t.
He tried to get his jab going in the next round, but Zhang immediately fired back with shots to make him think twice. Then he wobbled Joyce with a left, unsurprisingly considering Joe left his head there, but ref Howard Foster didn’t let Zhang follow up.
Credit; Daily Star
That should have caused alarms bells to ring for Joyce, but he didn’t really vary his work and as DAZN said;
‘Realising that his left hand was all that was required, Zhang could afford to be patient as he knew that Joyce’s exposed target would present itself throughout the fight as he fought to keep up with Zhang.’
That was exactly the case, the third when then traded was a fine round, Joyce’s combos, Zhang hooks, with the Englishman making his opponent think as he landed a quick left.
Credit; Sporting News
So comfortable did Zhang feel, he was able to just take Joe’s punches in an attempt to tire him out, that comes with feeling what Joyce had to offer and smiling inside.
Even in the final round, the sixth, when Zhang appeared becalmed, he just fired off two letters hands, both of which found their way into the puffy right eye of Joyce.
In the corner, between rounds 5 and 6, Joyce was asked by his team if he could see the left hand coming, to which he replied ‘Erm…yeah’, the lack of sureness was telling.
Ref Foster asked the doc to look at eye, he allowed it to continue. The doc was called again and that’s when it was waved off. Quite right, the eye was swelled shut and if there was having trouble seeing the left hand coming before, he’d be at risk if the fight had continued.
Credit; Evening Standard
For Zhang, who picked up the interim WBO Heavyweight title, Deontay Wilder is being mentioned. That would be a big fight as we know Wilder is susceptible to big shots from his fights with Tyson Fury and Zhang might have trouble judging the fast bombs Wilder can throw.
Joyce said after, as the BBC reported;’
‘I’m disappointed. I’d like to apologise to all my fans and supporters – I’ll be back. My journey’s not over, this is just a hurdle I’ve tripped over.’
But…the dream of fighting Fury is surely over. Except that Fury, who must be smarting after the ‘will he, won’t he, why won’t he?’ Usyk fight forago recently, might fancy a match against Joyce even more now – it would be an all-UK affair, with two heavyweights who can bang and who both have durable chins, but Joyce now seems beatable.
And how. Yes, the 0 had to go, but it’s the nature of the defeat which really creates cause for concern. Joyce had no answer for the punch which kept hitting him, which he actually called a right when reported by the BBC;’
The right hand he kept hitting me with… I couldn’t get out of the way, so respect to Zhang…I expected to win like I normally do…’
You can expect it, but you have to prepare for it. Did he not expect the punch? He was called a ‘sitting duck’
in that same BBC report, which is really back to the drawing board stuff. To be bested like that is back in the gym, back in the ring, paring back the style to change things. Apparently Joyce didn’t break anything on Saturday night. Except for his momentum, of course.
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