Following reports that the fight was made, it has now been officially announced that Joe Joyce will defend his WBO Interim Heavyweight title against China’s Zhilei Zhang.
‘Big Bang’ will make the trip to London’s Copper Box Arena on April 15 to face ‘The Juggernaut’, who’s coming off the back of a career-best victory over former champion, Joseph Parker.
Promoter Frank Warren has promised ‘fireworks’ and believes that, in facing a southpaw, Joyce will be preparing well for a future shot against either Oleksandr Usyk or Tyson Fury.
Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs), readying for yet another night of getting his chin tested, is looking forward to a good night of back and forth action.
“It is a great fight. He had a tough fight against Hrgovic but I thought he won the fight. Zhang is a big, strong southpaw who is massive, and he has been to the Olympics and all that. So, he has the experience and I think it will be a great fight.
“He bangs so I will have to watch out for it. As Hrgovic and I have a similar style, they had a great fight, so when we fight it should be entertaining. It will be carnage in the centre of the ring!”
As for Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs), many will feel he’s earned his spot after an impressive showing against Filip Hrgovic last August – one which some fans and pundits felt he won despite losing via unanimous decision.
It was a first career loss for the man from China. He’s looking to come back with, well, a bang.
“It’s a new chapter in my career. I am always up for the challenge and when the opportunity rings the bell. Joe Joyce and I share a lot in common – we both are Olympic silver medalists, both are big punchers, and are nearly the same size. This is going to be an explosive, epic and tremendous fight.
I want to thank my team and Joyce’s team for putting this together. I want all my fans in UK to show up and enjoy the event. Can’t wait to get in the ring on April 15th.”
The winner will be well-placed for a title shot once all’s said and done between Fury and Usyk and their undisputed bout.
Joyce and Warren will be confident that he’ll keep that mandatory position, but will be acutely aware that Zhang is not to be taken lightly.
Tickets for the slugfest will be available from 11am on Wednesday, 15 February via TicketMaster.