Zhilei Zhang stepped through the ropes for his rematch with Joe Joyce knowing exactly how the Brit would fight, according to his advisor Terry Lane.
The big man from China made it 2-0 over Joyce in London in the space of just five months, producing a knockout of the year contender in the form of a third round right hook that sent ‘The Juggernaut’ to the canvas for the first time in his professional career.
Both fighters came in at career heaviest weights, and the general idea was that Joyce would look to take the fight late.
Lane told Boxing Social that the team were ‘shocked’ at how Joyce was on the scales, but that’s where his surprise ended – partly due to ‘spies’ in the camp.
“We knew it was gonna be a lot of body punches to bring down the guard. We knew he was gonna move to his left. We had spies on him in Las Vegas – we knew that that’s all they were working on. You’re moving to your left but you’ve gained 25 pounds, you’re not gonna turn into Muhammad Ali in there.
So listen, we were prepared for all that. Nothing was a surprise tonight. Zhilei was patient, picked his spots and caught him with the flush right hook. Boom.”
Joyce trains out of Las Vegas under the guidance of Ismael Salas, and could gear preparations towards Zhang this time around having already experienced him in the ring.
Zhang made some changes to his own camp too, introducing a new strength and conditioning coach.
It was work on a gas tank that was unnecessary given he produced a more conclusive result in half the time compared to their first fight.
Whilst Joyce faces a long road back to the top table, Zhang has already announced that he wants to face Tyson Fury next. As a mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk, ‘Big Bang’ seems to have options.