Zhang vs. Joyce II: Is this the end for ‘The Juggernaut’?

By Charles Brun: Joe Joyce will seek revenge against WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang this Saturday night in their rematch at the OVO Arena in London.

It’s believed that Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) has had a lot of southpaw sparring and has worked on moving his head to get out of the way of the lead lefts that Zhang with be bombarding him with on Saturday.

Head movement might not be enough for Joyce because it’s not going to improve his slow hand speed and his rudimentary technical skills that were inferior to Zhang’s.

Joyce’s British fans are putting their hopes on him evening the score by defeating Zhang (25-1-1,20  KOs) to save his career and put him in position to fight for the world title next year against champion Oleksandr  Usyk.

Many of Joyce’s fans have unrealistic cartoon images of what they believe he’ll do in the rematch, thinking that he’s going to beat up Zhang and show that his previous loss was just a fluke.

The reality is when a fighter gets beaten the way Joyce did by Zhang last April, they’re rarely able to turn the tables in the rematch. If anything, the next fight is a continuation of the previous one.

Zhang vs. Joyce II will be shown live on ESPN+ this Saturday, September 23rd. The event begins at 2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m.PT.

Joyce’s right eye was closed up by Zhang’s powerful left hand shots last April, resulting in the fight needing to be halted in the sixth round.

Zhang has already said that he’s going to target Joyce’s right eye in the rematch because he believes that’s an area that he can take advantage of to score another stoppage.

Is this the end for Joyce?

“I think Joe Joyce will get revenge. Surely, he brought in southpaw sparring. Maybe he’s going to play the size game here,” said Ade Oladipo on his social platform. “Joe Joyce is the ‘Juggernaut’and the idea is, he is right through you.”

It sounds like Ade, like many of Joyce’s boxing fans, don’t want to believe the truth that is right there in front of them. The fact is, Joyce is just an average ham & egger, and if he was exposed by Zhang.  If it wasn’t Zhang that did it, it would have been someone else.

“I think if he can work on his head movement, and surely, he’s got southpaw sparring so he can see those left hands coming,” said Ade. “It’s not as if those left hands were fast from Zhilei Zhang. 

“Don’t get me wrong. Those left hands had a bit of snap on them. If Zhang beats Joyce again, there’s an argument that Zhang is a top-four heavyweight. To me, Zhang beat Hrgovic, and it was back-to-back wins over Joe Joyce. That is very solid.

“Zhang is no scrub. The amateur record will tell you as well, but Zhang is nearly 40, and he has slowed down tremendously as well. Joe Joyce will be seeing those punches coming. He should be. I’m going for revenge with no confidence.”

Zhang actually looked like the younger fighter than the 37-year-old Joyce last April, and he clearly had better hand speed than ‘The Juggernaut.’ Zhang is blessed with that fast hands and enormous punching power. He was arguably robbed in the 2012 Olympics in his fight with Anthony Joshua, as he deserved the win.

“Tony Bellew believes Joe Joyce is a bit like an egg. Once it’s cracked, it’s cracked,” said Ade. “With Joe not being able to take those punches, it’s just gone now, and that happens with some fighters.

“Those fighters that dine out on having great chins. Once that chin gets cracked once and gets dented a little bit, then that’s it. The chin can’t be rebuilt. So,  he’s thinking that if Joe’s chin is done, it’s done, and if Zhang catches him again, it’s done,” said Ade.

Joe’s fans believe in him

“I think Joe Joyce is going to get it done and stop Zhilei Zhang in the second half of the fight,”  said Ade. “I guess around eight or nine. I think he’s going to have to weather something in the first three or four rounds, as he did in the first fight, because Zhang is going to be fresh.”

It’s great that Ade is staying loyal to Joyce, but that’s not going to help him win on Saturday night if Zhang closes up that eye once again. Joyce just isn’t good enough to cut the mustard at the pro level, and there’s not much that can be done about that. It’s survival of the fittest. 

The tank is going to be full of petrol. I  do think that tank is going to get emptied really quick because I expect Joe Joyce to do what he normally does. A very high work rate in,”  said Ade.

“Normally, the opponents that can keep up with that, they have nothing the second half of the fight. So, I’m expecting something like that,” said Ade about his belief that Zhang will gas out on Saturday night from the pressure that Joyce puts on him.

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