We analyse the credentials of two of the hardest-hitting heavyweights as Britain's Joe Joyce and China's Zhilei Zhang get set for their hotly-anticipated September rematch.
Back in April when I wrote the Tale of the Tape for Joyce-Zhang 1 the Chinese heavyweight was 6/1 to win and Joyce was a huge 1/10 favourite.
In my prediction, I said: ‘6/1 is a tempting price for Zhang to win the fight outright but in the end, I think we will witness a valiant effort and a painful defeat at the hands of Joyce after 12 punishing rounds.’
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one to get my prediction wrong!
No-one foresaw a stoppage in the sixth round for Joyce - it was ‘punishing’ but for Joyce throughout the entire contest.
Zhang continually popped out punches from his southpaw stance which Joyce could not deal with. The result was a badly injured right eye which the ringside physician deemed reason enough to advise the referee to stop the fight.
‘The Juggernaut’ (1/1) had seemed unstoppable, punching through opponents on his way to a certain world title shot. ‘Big Bang’ Zhang burst Joyce’s ambitions and goes into the September 23 rematch as a slight favourite.
Joyce is faced with a difficult proposition and improvements to make if he is to avoid a similar fate.
Can he do it? Let’s look at the Tale of the Tape...
|Joe Joyce (1/1)||Zhilei Zhang (4/5)|
|Nickname:||The Juggernaut||Big Bang|
|Height:||6fr 6ins||6ft 6ins|
|Trainer:||Ismael Salas||Shaun George|
|Record:||15-1 (14 KOs)||25-1-1 (20 KOs)|
|Titles:||WBO 'Interim' heavyweight champion||None|
|Last fight:||KO loss v Zhilei Zhang (Apr 23)||KO victory v Zhilei Zhang (Apr 23)|
Joe Joyce must improve on his defence, head movement, and remember he does know how to fight a southpaw when he faces Zhang.
During a long and impressive amateur career Joyce faced many types of opponents from either stance.
To hear that he struggled with Zhang’s southpaw style during his defeat was quite the surprise. This is after all the same man who went the five-round distance with gifted left-hander Oleksandr Usyk in their World Series of Boxing encounter 10 years ago.
‘The Juggernaut’ has admitted in interviews since the loss to Zhang that complacency may have been an issue prior to the loss. His weight was also a problem. Joyce’s size and bulk is an important tool in his come forward style that had served him so well previously.
Against Zhang he came in much lighter which, while positive for a Weight Watchers class, isn’t to his benefit in a boxing ring.
Joyce will always be a fighter who takes four shots to land one of his own such is the effectiveness of his work, but Zhang is a similar specimen to the Briton.
The pressure is all on Joyce to turn round a one-sided loss into a much-needed win to revive his world title aspirations.
|Granite chin||Takes a lot of unnecessary punches|
|Bags of stamina||Can become predictable|
|Heavy handed||Occasional slow starter|
|Carries his power late in fights||Southpaw style|
A contractual rematch clause thwarted Zhang’s chance of fighting Tyson Fury in the summer for the WBC heavyweight title.
Zhang’s team fail to see why Joyce would want to fight their man again after the manner in how the first fight played out.
The southpaw presented simple but effective problems for Joyce in April. It will be up to Joyce to adapt quicker in the rematch. Meanwhile Zhang will look to test out his opponent’s eye which he caused significant damage to five months ago.
A world title shot is on the line for both men, and I can’t imagine Zhang choosing to fight any differently.
Even if Joyce can avoid the left hand which caused great difficulty, he will still present a formidable task.
Fast hands, powerful, difficult to push back and a great chin- Zhang is a mountain of a man that who may prove too steep a challenge for Joyce once again.
|Zhang is dangerous early||Technique can unravel late on|
|Powerful left hand||Defence can be broken down|
|Excellent chin||Tendency to fall short with punches|
|Good hand speed||Uncomfortable fighting on the back foot|
View the latest Joe Joyce v Zhilei Zhang 2 odds
Odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation.