Sam Jones has hit back at Eddie Hearn’s criticism of Joe Joyce following his defeat to Zhilei Zhang this past weekend.
Hearn claimed Joyce was not an elite heavyweight after losing to Zhang, who was a sizeable betting underdog, at the Copper Box on Saturday night.
Joyce’s former manager Jones fired back in an interview with Boxing King Media, pointing out that Joshua lost to “a little fat man” in the form of Andy Ruiz and also suffered defeat to the only ‘elite’ boxer he’s faced.
“I agree that Joe Joyce has never boxed an elite heavyweight, no fault of his own, nobody wants to fight him.
AJ, Klitschko aside at 42 years-old who I believe was past his best, has boxed one elite heavyweight, Usyk, and has lost to him twice. Never looked like winning in either of the fights, Chisora pushed Usyk closer than AJ did, fact. Does that mean AJ’s not an elite heavyweight?
Fighters can have off nights. Zhang was the better man on the night. But this is top level sport, people lose.
Andy Ruiz Jr – a little fat man – beat Anthony Joshua in Madison Square Garden! Nobody thought that was going to happen. He came back, regrouped, got his gameplay right and made it look easy in the rematch.
I’m not saying it will be easy, but I know Joe Joyce personally, and he will beat Zhang in the rematch.”
Joyce went into the fight as the clear favourite in the eyes of many, with most observers of the opinion that his gas tank and thudding power would be too much for the 39 year old Zhang to handle.
However, ‘Big Bang’ proved he had the tools to deal with Joyce with plenty in hand, causing the Olympic silver medalist all sorts of problems from the very off.
Joyce’s right eye started to close over after less than two rounds, and the damage soon became so severe that the doctor and Howard Foster had no other alternative but to wave off the contest half way through the sixth round.
A contractual rematch clause is in place should Joyce decide to take it, but he hinted in a post-fight interview that he may take a less dangerous fight first before jumping back in with Zhang.