Joe Joyce has spoken the day after he suffered a shock defeat to Zhilei Zhang in London.
Zhang went into the fight as a big underdog, but had been warning all week he wasn’t just here for a holiday. Still, not many gave the 39-year-old a chance of breaking down the Brit’s famous granite chin.
‘Big Bang’ had Joyce in trouble from the very first bell, with his southpaw left seemingly unable to miss the target. ‘The Juggernaut” was on shaky legs for the first time in his a career in the second round after an onslaught of heavy punches from Zhang, but the referee did Joyce a favour in breaking up the action just as he looked ready to fall.
The reprieve didn’t last long, though, as Joyce’s right eye started to swell and, as the rounds went by, it became clear the 37 year-old would need a knockout before the injury would force a stoppage.
In the sixth round the inevitable happened as the doctor took a closer look at the eye and advised the referee to wave off the fight – the upset was complete.
All the pre-fight talk had been about a potential summer blockbuster with either Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua, those plans are now dead in the water. Joyce has a rematch clause option, but hinted in his post-fight interview that he may take a bout in-between.
Taking to Twitter this morning to reflect on the night, the now former WBO interim champion said:
“Gutted, so annoying that I lost, but credit to Zhilei Zhang for giving me a good fight and getting the victory. I’ll be back.”
Gutted, so annoying that I lost, but credit to Zhilei Zhang for giving me a good fight and getting the victory. I’ll be back.#THEJUGGERNAUTpic.twitter.com/UVQfd2tyHD
— Joe Joyce (@JoeJoyceBoxing) April 16, 2023
As for Zhang, his options are wide open but has made it clear he wants Fury next in his homeland, China.