It was heartbreak in London for Joe Joyce as he hit the canvas for the first time in his professional career courtesy of a devastating one-shot knockout from Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang.
The Brit is to be commended for taking the rematch with Zhang just five months on from the first fight in which his eye was so badly damaged the referee waved it off.
Unfortunately, Zhang was double confident, and the same problems for Joyce presented themselves from the second round onwards. He was rocked briefly before being put down in the third by a highlight-reel right hook.
Speaking to Queensberry Promotions in the immediate aftermath, ‘The Juggernaut’ congratulated his opponent.
“Zhang is a great fighter. A great southpaw. He’s a fellow silver medalist and he’s probably avoided by most. It was probably a bit too far of a risk. I haven’t fought a southpaw for a long time. Just disappointing. I got myself into the position I was and it was obviously a risk to far and I paid the price.”
Joyce went on to discuss the fight and what went wrong.
“I was a bit more concentrated on what he was throwing, and warming into the fight and doing what I’d been practicing. He’s a difficult fighter. I could’ve gone another route, but I decided to take the challenge.”
Given he is 38-years-old, there have been calls to retire from pundits. Joyce said that he would not be hanging up the gloves, and that fight fans would see him in the ring again.
“This is not it for me. I’ve got plenty more in the tank. You should see me again out there. I’m just gonna have a bit of time off, reflect, watch the fight back and then come back new and improved.”
As for what he does next, it’s too early to say.
“I’m gonna have to talk with my team and see what’s the best route … Hat’s off to Zhang, he’s a great fighter and I’m sure he’s gonna be in some great fights next. I’m gonna have to rebuild and come back to a different route.”
Zhang has cemented his status as WBO Interim champion, and with that comes a mandatory shot at Oleksandr Usyk. Post-fight, the big man from China called out Tyson Fury instead.