Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce 2 is soon upon us. Joe Joyce will be looking to even the score against ”Big Bang,” regain the WBO interim heavyweight world title and get a mandatory shot against Unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
We will see on Saturday. You can watch on ESPN+, by the way.
Joyce, (15-1-1, 14 KOs) was brutally halted in the sixth round by ‘Big Bang’ Zhang (25-1-2, ) in April.
Joyce entered the contest expecting to continue his momentum and fight either of the heavyweight champions next, all that stood in his way was Chinese heavyweight Zhang.
The Juggernaut has built a reputation for being able to walk through big shots due to his fearless attitude and granite chin. However, the home favourite was left stunned and broken at the hands of the all-conquering Zhilei Zhang.
Notoriously a slow starter, Joyce was caught off guard by Zhang, who came flying out of the corner, taking control of the fight and pummeling Joyce seemingly at will.
Joyce’s only previous southpaw opponent as a professional was Lenroy Thomas, however, it was clear Zhang was leagues above.
Zhang's left hand couldn’t miss the target, throwing off Joyce and causing serious damage to his right eye.
Joyce’s speed and reflexes were exposed as Zhilei Zhang appeared too fast, accurately beating Joyce to the punch.
The fight was stopped in the 6th round to save Joyce severe punishment.
All credit to Zhang as his laser-like left hand couldn’t miss closing Joe's right eye and taking his unbeaten record and interim title in the process.
Will ‘Big Bang’ knock Joyce’s title hopes into orbit?
Or will the Juggernaut obliterate Zhilei Zhang and get his career back on track?
It's abundantly clear that Joe Joyce needs to make serious improvements if he doesn’t want a repeat of the first fight, if he can’t make the necessary adjustments he will be in trouble against the tricky Southpaw Zhang.
This is a must-win fight, the winner becomes mandatory to Usyk, the loser will be at a career crossroads and due to both their advancing ages they might only get one shot if any at becoming world champion.
Undercard Info For Zhilei Zhang Vs Joe Joyce 2
On the undercard of the Zhilei Zhang feature, chief support Anthony Yarde (23-3 – 22 KOs) returns to the ring following his brave and valiant attempt to strip three of the four light heavyweight titles from Artur Beterbiev.
Yarde was praised for giving Beterbiev his toughest fight to date before he was pulled out by his corner in the 8th round to avoid further punishment.
This fight will be Yarde's first fight on his comeback trail towards the light heavyweight titles. Three times a charm?
He fought the formidable Russian light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev in the champ's hometown in 2019.
Facing Yarde will be English light-heavyweight champion Ricky Summers (19-3-1-6 KOs). Summers’ last fight was in March, where he triumphed over Joel McIntyre.
This will be a tough ask for Summers, as a massive underdog, it would be a big upset victory if he could pull it out of the bag against the more experienced world title challenger Anthony Yarde.
On this undercard before the Zhang Zhilei main event, we will see the return of WBC International Silver lightweight champion Sam Noakes (11-0-11 KOs), defending the belt against Spain’s Carlos Perez (19-7-2).
Sam Noakes has knocked out everyone he has faced and some were hoping he’d meet a stiffer test.
However, if he can win and look good doing it, he can look to push on with his career and start focusing on title opportunities against better opposition.
Perez is a fighter who is no stranger to fighting in the UK, having lost to both Jono Carrell and Cori Gibbs. Perez will be looking to cause an upset and build on his best win to date against Ecuador-born Kevin Baldospino.
Next up before the Zhang Zhilei feature, WBC International Super lightweightchampion Pierce O’Leary (12 -0 -7 KOs) will make just the second defence of this title against Kane Gardener (16-2).
This fight is a big step up for O’Leary, however if he can pull out a victory, he can potentially look forward to some big British domestic fights. Maybe most notably British champion Dalton Smith and/or rising star Adam Azim.
Zack Parker returns to action following his stoppage loss to John Ryder in November of last year.
The former British champion will be looking to regain some momentum following his first career loss and push onwards to world honours.
More light heavyweight action before the Zhang Zhilei main event: Nottinghams‘ next star Ezra Taylor (6-0, 4 KOs) takes on experienced former English title challenger Joel McIntyre (20-7, 5 KOs). He is most notable for his losses to Ricky Summers and world title challenger Lyndon Arthur.
Heavyweight prospect Moses Itauma (4-0- 2KOs) will fight Amine Boucetta (7-8) in a six-round contest.
Former Amateur Champion Royston Barney-Smith will be seeking win number 7 in a six-round contest against Ruslan Berchuk (14-19).
Finally finishing the undercard, British Cruiserweights Tommy Fletcher (5-0, 4) and Aloys Jr (4-1, 4) will square off to maybe incite a good rivalry.