By Charles Brun: Promoter George Warren says Joe Joyce has a rematch clause and must decide whether to face Zhilei Zhang again immediately or not. Taking the rematch could be a mistake for Joyce because Zhang is a bad style match-up for him.
With how Zhang systematically beat up Joyce last Saturday night in scoring a sixth-round TKO victory at the Copper Box Arena in London, it would be foolhardy for ‘The Juggernaut’ to invoke the rematch clause. That was no fluke. Zhang had Joyce’s number, which will not change in a rematch.
George Warren told iFL TV that Zhang got a “bit of luck” with Joyce’s eye injury, but that was no luck. Zhang created that injury, and he was already getting the better of Joe, even before that issue popped up.
Joyce’s eye was still fine in the second round when he got badly staggered by Zhang. Joe couldn’t get out of the way of Zhang’s lead left hands, which were coming too quickly for him and doing damage.
At this point, Joyce can still come again if he gets a few quick victories under his belt against vulnerable fringe contenders like Dillian Whyte, Anthony Joshua, Fabio Wardley, Agit Kabayel, and Jarrell Miller. But if Joyce fights Zhang again, he’s likely to get thrashed a second time, and his career will be down the drain.
It’s a decision that the 37-year-old Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) will need to consider carefully.
If Joyce loses to Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) a second time, it would probably mean he’ll never get a title shot unless it’s a sympathy-type job like we journeyman Derek Chisora undeservingly getting against WBC champion Tyson Fury last December.
With British fans being forgiving of their fighters that absorb losses, Joyce doesn’t need to fight Zhang again for him to continue to be supported in large numbers. He can rebuild by fighting the aforementioned bottom dwellers like Whyte, Chisora, Wardley, and Frazer Clarke and come back from this without wrecking his career.
Will Joyce take a rematch with Zhang?
“That rematch clause, that right to invoke it, is Joe’s. It’s not Queensberry’s, it’s his if he wants to do it, and we’ll support it and make it happen,” said George Warren to iFL TV when asked if Joe Joyce will fight Zhilei Zhang again.
“Look, we’ve got a relationship now moving forward with Zhilei. He’s under contract with Queensberry. They’re a great team to work with, his management team and his lawyer Scott Schaefer.
“He had that right as the WBO mandatory challenger. He put up that position to make this fight when most people probably sitting in that position wouldn’t do to take on such a tough fight,” George continued about the risk Joyce chose to take last Saturday night by facing Zhang when he didn’t have to.
“If he wants to do a rematch, not only is he deserving of it, but we’ll make sure it happens. We’ll catch up with him in the next couple of weeks and see what he wants to do.
“He came, and he sort of conquered, didn’t he?” said George about Zhang. “He boxed really well. I think Joe struggled with his southpaw stance and got caught too many times.
“We all know that Joe takes shots that other heavyweights don’t, but what he’s always been able to get away with to a certain degree is his chin, his stamina, and the fact that he ends up getting on top of these guys.
“When that eye went, it was always going to be difficult because your peripheral vision is gone; you can’t necessarily see what’s coming at you.
I’d like to have seen him continue with that tactic that he had in the first round, where he was moving to his right, staying away from that left hand more, but fair play to Zhilei. Joe will come again,” said Warren about Joyce.
Was Zhang lucky with Joe’s eye injury?
“Absolutely,” said Warren when told that Zhang’s lead left hand was ‘amazing.’ “People write people off just because necessarily they haven’t heard of them. Hardcore boxing fans know who that guy is.
“He’s an Olympic silver medalist, and for me for my money, he beat [Filip] Hrgovic in that final [IBF heavyweight title] eliminator out in Saudi Arabia].
“Full credit to him. Maybe this is the just deserts where you get a bit of luck, you get that eye injury, and you get the win tonight when you lost in Saudi.
“It was the right decision [to stop the fight]. They’re here to entertain us. They’re not here to put their health too much of a risk for us.
“I don’t think there was too much in the fight, but that eye was going to be a huge problem and was going to become more and more of a problem in the later rounds. They definitely made the right decision,” said George.