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Joe Joyce has activated rematch clause for Zhilei Zhang fight

Image: Joe Joyce has activated rematch clause for Zhilei Zhang fight

By Charles Brun: Joe Joyce has activated a rematch clause for a fight against Zhilei Zhang, but it doesn’t mean they will meet next. Joyce’s manager Adam Morallee informed Mike Coppinger about them exercising the rematch clause for the Zhang match.

Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) and his team may be fishing for a step-aside deal, enabling Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) to go ahead with his plans to face WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in July.

If Joyce does insist on forcing the rematch, he’d be doing Fury a real solid because Zhang has the power, size & speed to knock him out and ruin his big-money undisputed championship fight with IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in December in Saudi Arabia. Zhang would be a nightmare Fury.

Fury isn’t exactly the hardest fighter to hit, and punch resistance isn’t what it needs to be for him to absorb Zhang’s left hands all night.

It’s unclear how much money the 37-year-old Joyce will want to step aside, but if Zhang calls his bluff and chooses not to indulge him, it will put ‘The Juggernaut in a tough spot where his career could be finished.

The southpaw Zhang showed last April that he was too fast, powerful, and technically skilled for the slow, easy-to-hit 6’6″ Joyce. The fight had to be halted after six rounds because Joyce’s right eye had swollen shut.

Zhang was beating the living daylights out of Joyce long before his eye began to swell up, and it was evident that Joe had no defense for his lead left hand. That wasn’t all, though. Zhang was battering Joyce with combinations as well.

“Joe Joyce has exercised the rematch clause for a return bout with Zhilei Zhang, Joyce’s manager, Adam Morallee,” said Mike Coppinger at ESPN.

“Joyce had the right to call for the rematch in either of the next two fights but has chosen to have the fight now,” Morallee said. “I think he would have won the first fight had it continued and the eye hadn’t gone.

I think he would have swarmed him in the fight’s second half. That was always going to be a fight of two halves, and unfortunately, he got injured in the first half.”

“This is the only fight we’re looking at,” Morallee said. “Get him back in his mandatory position and go for [the title shot].”

It’ll be interesting if Joyce goes ahead and takes the rematch with Zhang and gets knocked out again. If that happens, Joyce could wind up on skidrow, wishing he’d never heard of Zhang.

On the one hand, it’s understandable that Joyce would want to try and avenge his loss to Zhang because if he’s victorious, he’ll be back in position as the WBO mandatory to face champion Usyk in 2024.

On the other hand, Zhang is a lousy style match-up, and he could knock Joyce out again and permanently wreck his career. Joyce will turn 38 in September and will be too old to regain a mandatory position.

It took Joyce six years to become WBO mandatory. If it takes another six years, Joyce will be 44, and that won’t happen.

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