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Joe Joyce vs. Zhang Zhilei on April 15th in London

Image: Joe Joyce vs. Zhang Zhilei on April 15th in London

By Brian Webber: Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce will defend his interim WBO heavyweight title against two-time Olympian Zhang Zhilei on April 15th in London, England. Joyce vs. Zhang is a bout that promises to be a rock ’em sock ’em affair from start to finish on the night.

It’s an excellent fight for the unbeaten Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) because he’s in a holding pattern, waiting to get his mandated title shot against WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk, who is expected to face WBC belt holder Tyson Fury in March or April.

Keith Idec of Boxing Scene reports the news of the Joyce vs. Zhang fight on April 15th in London.

Zhang has the power that could trouble Joyce if he plods forward face first like he usually does.

Fighting the huge 6’6″ power-punching Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs) will prepare Joyce to face the last man standing between Fury & Usyk, assuming that fight occurs.

You can’t really know if the Fury-Usyk match will take place because Fury has struck out on his past attempts at getting important fights against the top dogs.

If the fight doesn’t happen, Usyk will be required to defend his WBO title against the winner of Joyce vs. Zhilei.

In that case, it’ll be interesting to see if Usyk gives up his WBO belt by vacating it rather than taking on a risky fight against Joyce or Zhang, which won’t pay the kind of money he can make in matches with Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and possibly Andy Ruiz Jr.

The 37-year-old Joyce’s clock is ticking, and he cannot continue to wait for his title shot before he starts showing signs of age and the wear & tear of his often grueling fights.

Joyce is coming off of a career-best eleventh round knockout over former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker on September 24th in London.

Zhang is coming off a controversial 12 round unanimous decision loss to Filip Hrgovic on August 20th in an IBF title eliminator on the undercard of Joshua vs. Usyk II in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Many boxing fans had Zhang winning that fight, as he dominated Hrgovic through the first half of the contest, hurting him repeatedly with heavy shots.

In the championship rounds, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Hrgovic came on and got the better of the tired Zhang. Still, it appeared that Zhang had done enough to win a decision, but the judges gave it to Hrgovic.

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