Zhilei Zhang with 22-lb weight advantage over Joe Joyce

By Boxing News - 04/14/2023 - Comments

By Jake Tiernan: Zhilei Zhang will enjoy a 22-lb weight advantage on Saturday against Joe Joyce in their headliner at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.

The two Olympic heavyweight silver medalists weighed in on Friday, with Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs) scaling in at 278 lbs and Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) at a relatively slender 256 lbs.

Now the question is will Zhang be able to use his size advantage to bang WBO interim champion Joyce out and ruin his dreams of challenging for a world title against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk next year?

Zhang’s stamina betrayed him in his last fight against Felip Hrgovic last August and in his match against journeyman Jerry Forrest in 2021. Both of those were fights that Zhang was fighting well in the first half, but then gassed out and took punishment.

If Zhang’s poor cardio rears its ugly head on Saturday, Joyce has the power and engine to stop him. Also, with Howard Foster working as the referee for the fight, it wouldn’t be a shock if the contest is halted prematurely.

If your Zhang, it would be in his best interest to go all out early to try and score a knockout because the longer the fight goes, thee great thee chances he gets stopped.

“The thing about Zhilei Zhang is he’s on the same level technically because he’s on the Olympic level,” said Joe Joyce’s trainer Ismael Salas to Boxing Social. “He was in two Olympics and won a silver medal. Joe Joyce was a silver medalist in the 2016 Olympics.

“They are similar. It’s the second time that I worked with Joe Joyce against a Southpaw. The fight with Lenroy Thomas [in 2018], and everybody saw the result. Now with Zhilei Zhang, it’s different.

“I believe his boxing style is a counter-puncher, so we have one counter-puncher and one guy coming forward. So this is my job to try and find out how to beat a counterpunch guy like Zhilei Zhang.

“I think Tyson FFury because of his size, punching power and he’s very flexible. That’s why he’s the #1 heavyweight,” said Salas when asked to pick the most difficult match-up for Joyce.

“I think it’s very possible because of the same promotion,” said Salas when asked how possible was it for a fight between Joyce and Fury to take place. There’s so much politics in boxing. It’s crazy, but I think it’s very, very possible.”

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