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Joe Joyce motivated to defeat Zhilei Zhang to recapture WBO interim title

Image: Joe Joyce motivated to defeat Zhilei Zhang to recapture WBO interim title

By Charles Brun: Joe Joyce says he’s worked on the flaws in his game that led to his defeat last April against Zhilei Zhang, and he intends on defeating him in their rematch to win back the WBO interim heavyweight title on September 23.

Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs), who will be turning 38 on September 19, says he’ll be next up to get a title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk once he recaptures the WBO belt from Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs).

It sounds like wishful thinking by Joyce because he was dominated in every aspect of his game by the two-time Olympian last April, and it’s beyond fixing. The only two things Joyce can hope for are Zhang getting tired from punching him in the head or a controversial decision.

The Zhang vs. Joyce II event will be shown on ESPN+ at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT.

Is Joyce in denial?

Maybe underestimated Zhang a little bit, thought I would get him out of there in the later rounds,” Joe Joyce said to Sky Sports, talking about his sixth round TKO loss to Zhilei Zhang last April.

“He was very fast and accurate with the left hand and the counter shots. But this time, it will be different.”

Zhang’s win last April over Joyce had nothing to do with ‘The  Juggernaut’ underestimating him and everything to do with him having enough talent.

Zhilei arguably beat Filip Hrgovic last April, and many boxing fans believe he was robbed in his fight against Anthony Joshua in the 2012 London Olympics. Zhang should be a gold medalist and still unbeaten as a pro.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist Joyce will fight at home on September 23rd at the OVO Arena Wembley in London. You can’t rule out a questionable decision if the fight is close.

However, it’s difficult to see the contest being a close one because Zhang was beating Joyce up on the outside & the inside and having his way.

Joyce hasn’t said what he’ll do if he loses to Zhang. At Joyce’s age, retirement might be a good option because it would take too many years to try and come back from a second defeat to Zhang, but you never know.

One of the champions could give him a free title shot without earning it. Look at 39-year-old Derek Chisora (34-13, 23 KOs)as an example of that. Chisora had lost three out of his last four fights when he was given a title shot by WBC champion Tyson Fury last December.

However, that was more of a product of how lazy & risk averse Fury has become since his three grueling fights with Deontay Wilder, who knocked the ambition out of him.

Fury won the battles with Wilder, but the damage that Deontay inflicted in those three fights has destroyed Tyson’s will to fight on. As the saying goes, War is hell.

Tyson looks like someone who came home on R&R from the war and has chosen the desertion route rather than returning to the front to continue risking his hide like other soldiers.

Joe blaming eye for loss

“I threw and landed, and if it wasn’t for the eye, I think he was starting to tire mid-to-late rounds,” said Joyce.

It didn’t look like Zhang was tiring in the sixth round, as still nailing Joyce at will with left hands to the head. If not for Joyce’s eye closing, he’d have likely been knocked out in a round or two because he was getting royally hammered by Zhang.

“The WBO gets called after the IBF, which is up next. So I can get my shot in,” said Joyce.

“I’m coming to take back what’s mine and take back that WBO Interim so then I can carry on my journey,” said Joyce.

“I had a great camp in Las Vegas, and I feel good mentally, physically, and I’m ready to get the victory,” said Joyce to Pro Boxing Fans. “I’ve done well to get this far. A lot of people wrote me off earlier.

“I definitely need to move my head, and in this fight, I’ll move my head more. I’ve been practicing what I need to do in this fight, and I believe I’m ready.

“I got one more week of sparring, and then it kind of tapers off to the media stuff, press conference, weigh-in, that kind of thing,” said Joyce.

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