British heavyweight Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang of China will face-off once again in September as they settle old scores from their original bout earlier in the year.
The pair took to the ring in April when Joyce saw his proud unbeaten record fall. Joyce’s eye was swollen and had already been looked at twice by the ringside doctor when the referee decided to call an end to proceedings in the sixth round.
Joyce was naturally frustrated with the result, but he paid tribute to his opponent, praising his punching technique before reassuring fans that he’d return in the not-too-distant future: “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. I’ll be back.”
Now that time has come. The latest Joyce/Zhang match will take place at Wembley’s OVO Arena on September 23rd, and Joyce has vowed to take no prisoners this time out.
“I’m coming back to take back what’s mine. No compromises. No under-estimating my opponent,” he said. “Nothing, but a win. Last time out I lost my undefeated professional record.
“It was hard to take. But after the dust settled, all that will do is make me better. I’ve learned lessons. I’m ready. And I am coming for everything.”
Joyce and Zhang’s Heavy-Hitting records
Nicknamed the Juggernaut, Joyce is one of the most recognisable faces in modern British boxing having picked up some major accolades across his career. But despite his fame and success, he wasn’t a big fan of the sport growing up, only becoming better acquainted with its history after turning it into a career.
“I was never into boxing,” he explained in 2019. “I’m not really into boxing now, but I enjoy doing it.”
The Zhang defeat remains the only blemish in a career that’s lasted 15 fights so far, 14 being won by knock-out. He made his first strides into the sport in 2012, winning super heavyweight at the ABA Championships and GB Amateur Boxing Championships. Bronze at the European Amateur Boxing Championships in 2013 followed as he picked up a formidable reputation for his powerhouse performances.
He came to the attention of the wider public during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where he won gold in the men’s super heavyweight class, before snapping up silver at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
It was a controversial and evenly-fought encounter, with Joyce losing out to France’s Tony Yoka on a split decision: 30-27, 29-28, 28-29. Many felt the bout could have gone either way and that Joyce should have felt aggrieved to have missed out on gold.
Zhang, meanwhile, is more seasoned than his opponent. With 27 fights in total, he’s won 25 (20 by knockout); the other two were a draw and a loss. He too has enjoyed Olympic success, claiming the silver in his home Games in Beijing back in 2008.
He couldn’t defend his title at the London event four years later though, losing to Britain’s Anthony Joshua at the quarter-final stage.
Written and distributed by Chat T Sports.