Joe Joyce faces Zhilei Zhang for the second time in five months, desperate to get revenge after his stoppage loss back in April.
The Brit was bamboozled by ‘Big Bang’ in London, seriously struggling with the southpaw stance and unable to get out the way of heavy shots. That led to his eye swelling shut by the halfway stage, forcing the referee to call a halt to the fight.
Now, Joyce, 38, will get another crack at Zhang, 40, in order to win back his WBO Interim title and the mandatory position for unified champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
Speaking on his podcast, trainer and pundit Teddy Atlas said that Joyce looked ‘shot’ and ‘horrendous’ in the first bout, and that things aren’t looking good for the rematch providing there wasn’t a reason for that stemming from his camp.
“Zhang is 40 years old. Joyce is 37, 38. But Joyce has more miles on the odometer. You just it on punishment taken, and in that way Joyce is the older fighter here.”
Up until the Zhang fight, he usually got rid of you but he took a lot of punishment to get there. And that punishment has a toll. I think it’s taken its toll. He looked like a shot fighter in his last fight. Now look, there can always be mitigating circumstance – I’m not there, I’m not in his camp. Maybe he got sick, maybe something happened.
If that’s the case, maybe he wins this time, but without having that information to explain why he looked so horrendous, other than the fact that he never got taught right to actually elude a punch rather than eat a punch … it might be too late now. If he’s that same guy who’s gonna rely just on being touch, just on weathering the storm, just on walking through punches and finally landing a big one, that’s it.”
With extenuating circumstance aside, Atlas can’t see by Zhang – who he believes will be more confident this time around – repeating his win.
“At the end of the day for those out there that want to hear my pick, how could I not, after breaking it down thoroughly, how could I not go with Zhang again? If anything he’s got more confidence after winning the first time.”
“I don’t know if he’ll stop him again, he stopped him by closing his eye last time, I don’t know if he’ll do that again. Just with his jab, his reach, his size that he knows how to use fairly well.”
The two hard-hitting heavyweights run it back this coming Saturday at the OVO Arena, Wembley.