By Vince D’Writer: In a rematch between two highly ranked heavyweight contenders, Joe Joyce (15-2, 14 KOs) had revenge on his mind, but unfortunately for him, the rematch turned into a repeat as Zhilei Zhang scored a 3rd round knockout victory.
On the night of April 15, 2023, at the Copper Box Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, England, Joe Joyce stepped inside the ring to defend his WBO Interim heavyweight title against Zhilei Zhang. The challenger started the fight, experiencing immediate success, landing his powerful left hand.
In the second round, Zhang landed a one-two combination that stunned Joe Joyce. Zhang was able to consistently land sharp left hand shots round after round, and as a result, they created a significant amount of damage to Joe Joyce’s right eye.
In the sixth round, Zhang landed a five-punch combination that influenced the referee to call a timeout. During the timeout, the doctor examined Joyce’s eye and proceeded to put a halt to the contest.
Five months later on September 23rd, Joe Joyce stepped inside the squared circle at the OVO Arena Wembley in hopes of getting his vindication. Joyce looked very cautious in the first round of the rematch as he tried to work his jab.
Midway through the second round, Zhang hurt Joyce when he landed a straight left hand. Late in the second round, the southpaw Zhang landed another solid left hand shot, and he finished the round by landing a flurry of hard punches.
With 1:17 left to go in the 3rd round, Zhilei Zhang landed another solid left hand. In the closing seconds of round three, Zhang ended the fight when he landed a massive right hand shot that caused Joe Joyce to fall down to the canvas face-first.
Zhilei Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) traveled to the United Kingdom for a second time, and once again, he leaves the UK with a victory and the WBO Interim heavyweight title. Prior to the fight, Zhang had a prediction, and on fight night, he was in the dressing room practicing the exact same punch he used to knock out Joe Joyce.
“I said before the fight that it would end sooner,” Zhang stated via translator during his post-fight interview. “But Joe is a helluva fighter. I respect him. I like him. We’re professional fighters, and we’re here to entertain. I hope everyone enjoyed it.”
Zhang went on to ask the crowd, “Do you want to see me shut up Tyson Fury?” Zhang may want Tyson Fury, but that fight isn’t going to happen next. A more realistic bout in the near future for Zhilei Zhang would be for him to avenge his only career loss by securing a rematch against Filip Hrgovic.