Joyce vs Zhang II tonight: Will the extra weight help Joe?

By Brian Webber: Joe Joyce bulked up big time, coming in at a mammoth 281 lbs for his rematch with WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang this Saturday night at the Wembley Arena in London.

Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) is coming into the fight with Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs), 25 pounds heavier than the last time he fought him in April, and is banking on being able to use the size to wear down the two-time Chinese Olympian.

In the first fight, Joyce drained down to 256 lbs, which was considerably lighter than the 271 lbs he’d weighed in his previous fight against Joseph Parker last year in September.

Joyce obviously thought that by coming in the mid-250s, he could push a fast pace to wear Zhang down like Filip Hrgovic & Jerry Forrest had.

That plan didn’t work for Joyce, so now he’s going in the opposite direction by coming in at a career-high of 281 lbs, and that’s risky. Joyce looked like he was punching underwater in the first fight, and it seems like a poorly thought-out idea to come in 25 lbs heavier.

Did Joyce’s trainer devise this plan, or is this his baby? If it’s Joyce’s trainer, he needs to fire him on the spot immediately after the fight if he loses to Zhang. Just give him the bad news right then and there while still in the ring.

“Did these guys call each other and then say, ‘Hey, let’s both come in heavy this time.’ I think Joyce going back to the mentality of being ‘The Juggernaut.’ He’s a ‘Juggernaut’ because he’s big and he’s durable, and he’s unstoppable and all that stuff,” said Paulie Malignaggi to ProBox TV, talking about the Zhilei Zhang vs. Joe Joyce II rematch for Saturday night.

In Zhang’s case, he might have been living it up, enjoying himself after his victory over Joyce, and that’s why he came in at a career-high of 287 lbs at the weigh-in.

“I think for his mindset, I think this is good. The negative, though, is you need some pace to beat Zhang, and if you put on that much weight, it’s going to affect your ability to create that kind of pace,” said Malignaggi.

Did he go too far in the other direction? Not that Joyce is a spring chicken, but Zhang is even older. So, I think having a plan to put a pace on Zhang would have been good. We’ll see what kind of fight we end up with here.”

It just looks like Joyce went too far with him bulking up, and he might not have been monitoring his weight as closely as he should have. How else can you explain him coming in so heavy?

“With heavyweights, you don’t have to make weight,” said Malignaggi. “So you have a target weight you try to come into fights with, and I think you start to notice as the fighters get older that target weight starts to creep up a little bit more.”

Both guys looked like they put on too much weight, especially Joyce with his Elvis Presley paunch. You can see the fat on his pot belly. It’s impossible to miss the belly fat that Joyce has put on, and you only get that from eating the wrong foods.

“I think this was a plan by Joe Joyce. It’s funny because I think his coming in so light last time was also planned because that was a big, drastic change, and this is a big, drastic change in the opposite direction,” said Malignaggi.

Joyce should have stopped adding weight when he got to 270 lbs, as he performed well at that weight against Joseph Parker last year. But for Joyce to bulk up to 281 lbs, he was clearly eating high on the hog and didn’t want to back away from the dinner table.

“I think maybe he wants to go back to his old image. ‘The Juggernaut’ image, and I think I think it’ll still be a good fight. I think it’ll create some dynamic exchanges,” said Malignaggi.

“These guys will certainly be moving even less than they were in the first fight, and they weren’t moving that much in the first fight either. So I think we’ll have some dynamic exchanges.

“It makes for a good fight, and I’ll tell you what. If Joyce is able to pull this off, I want to see a third fight because even if Joyce is able to pull this off, I think it’s going be a fun fight to watch,” said Malignaggi.

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