Joe Joyce has reflected on his loss to Zhilei Zhang, praising his opponent and criticising his own performance.
‘The Juggernaut’ was defeated for the first time in his his pro career after ‘Big Bang’ Zhang’s constant left hands caused his eye to swell dangerously. It was stopped in the sixth after a consultation with the ringside doctor.
Much has been made in the aftermath as to how prepared Joyce was to face a big southpaw. He came in notably lighter than his last fight, but didn’t use that to move around the ring as many expected he might.
Joyce told IFL TV that there were ‘certain things in camp’ that perhaps contributed to his below-par performance, and later mentioned some last minute changes that couldn’t have helped.
“There was slight changes to [the game plan] at the last moment. It’s difficult to tell you the exact game plan, cause there’s a lot of different things, and I haven’t really thought about it since the fight.”
As to the details on what changed, Joyce wasn’t forthcoming. His struggles with the southpaw stance were stark, though. He believes he wasn’t fighting at his full ability, but noted that Zhang was ‘deceptive’ in his skills.
“Looking back on the fight … It was a terrible performance for me. Like people are saying, I wasn’t really myself. Fighting a southpaw is such a tricky style that I found myself open for the straight left. It was hard to get away from. He was deceptively fast and hit hard.”
Joyce is confident that he can do better second time around, and he has the chance to show that to fans now that the rematch clause has been activated.
Although Zhang was rumoured to step up and challenge Tyson Fury next, Joyce’s team are adamant that they’ve got next.