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Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang rematch on September 23 in London

Image: Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang rematch on September 23 in London

By Jake Tiernan: Joe Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) has chosen to risk everything by facing WBO interim Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) in what some fans view as another example of a foolish gamble on September 23 at the OVO Arena in London.

Zhang stopped Joyce in the sixth round last April after the contest was halted due to Joe’s right eye swelling. There was talk of Joyce choosing not to run it back, as he could have taken a safer – but longer – path to a world title.

The 37-year-old Joyce says he’s taking the immediate rematch with the 40-year-old Zhang because he feels he doesn’t have the youth to take the long route back to work himself in a position to challenge for one of the heavyweight titles with one of the other alphabet organizations.

If Joyce wins his rematch against the bigger, faster, more powerful & skilled southpaw Zhang, he’ll be the mandatory once again for WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk and will be in a position to challenge for a world title in 2024.

Usyk is defending his IBF mandatory Daniel Dubois next in the summer. If everything works out, Joyce could face Dubois in a winnable rematch, which would be an ideal situation for ‘The Juggernaut.’

“It was so disappointing that night, and it is tough to take defeat like that. He was a good opponent. He hit me with some good shots, but I thought I could do a lot better,” said Joe Joyce to Boxing UK, reflecting on his loss to Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang last April at Wembley.

“If I wasn’t, if I stopped by the eye, I thought I could have maybe gone on and won the fight. So obviously, the natural step is to take the rematch and miss out on the mandatories when they get called. So I need to get back and get the [WBO interim] title back in time to do that.

“Yeah, I haven’t got time to take the long route, so I’m just going in again. There were always options and stuff, but which path to take, and I’ve decided to take the path for the rematch and get it back and then go on from there.

“It’s just more time working on combating in the southpaw style, more tactics and also getting used to that and also getting defense as well. Being a bit more defensive and weathering that storm early would
help,” said Joyce.

“I need an impeccable defense because it was real leaky. I seem to do well as the underdog, so maybe it’ll work in my favor,” said Joyce about him being the likely underdog in his rematch with Zhang.

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