Zhang Vs. Joyce II – Date, Start Time & Undercard Info
By Charles Brun: Joyce Joyce will put his career on the line in a rematch with WBO interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang on Saturday, September 23 at London’s OVO Arena Wembley. U.S. viewers can catch the action exclusively live on ESPN+.
After getting dominated in a sixth round knockout loss last April, Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) has decided to take a massive gamble giving it another go against the bigger, faster, and more powerful Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs).
It’s a crazy thing to do, but it shows you the level of desperation the 2016 Olympic silver medalist Joyce has.
Joyce will turn 38 in September, and he’s not a spring chicken. He needs to recapture his interim WBO strap that he lost against Zhang last April to get a title shot before he ages out.
Without that strap, it could take years for Joyce to get back in position for a world title shot, and he doesn’t have time to accomplish that.
Joyce was repeatedly nailed by the lightning-fast left hands from Zhang, resulting in his right eye closing altogether. The fight had to be stopped in the sixth round because Joyce only could see out of his left eye, and he got the stuffing beaten out of him by Zhang.
Joyce ate a flurry of power shots by Zhang in the sixth round, which led to the contest being halted by the ringside physician.
It’s challenging to know what Joyce can change in the rematch that will lead him to victory because Zhang is so much faster, and his power is on another level. Also, Zhang’s defense is far superior to Joyce’s, and he won’t be easy to hit.
Joyce’s trainer is likely to plan to try and take Zhang into the second half to wear him down, as we saw in his fights with Filip Hrgović and Jerry Forrest.
Joyce will stay outside, mainly throwing jabs and hoping that the 40-year-old southpaw Zhang doesn’t hit him with too many of his lead left hands like last time.
Zhang had Joyce in trouble in the second round after catching him with a hard left hand that staggered him. Joyce fell back against the ropes and was briefly bombarded by Zhang with heavy, bone-crunching shots to the head.
Before Joyce’s loss to Zhang, he’d been in the pipeline for a title shot against WBC champion Tyson Fury and IBF/WBA/WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk. Joyce was being talked about as being a potential threat to beating those guys, but not anymore.
Zhang spoiled Joyce’s plans, so now he’s got his back against the wall, needing a victory over ‘Big Bang’ to get back to where he was
Zhang vs. Joyce II marks the comeback of Anthony Yarde, a two-time light heavyweight title contender, who faces Ricky Summers. Additional fights in the undercard will start at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.