Undefeated heavyweight Joy Joyce (15-0, 14KOs) returns to action this upcoming Saturday (April 15) at the Copper Box Arena, London, against Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (24-1-1, 19KOs) and is already aiming for bigger things shortly. Joyce, who holds the WBO’s mandatory position to challenge unified champion, Oleksandr Usyk (WBA, WBO & IBF), is targeting an all-British heavyweight encounter and a shot at the WBC world heavyweight title against Tyson Fury for the summer. That is, if he is successful against Zhang.
When speaking to Boxingscene, Joyce hopes it can be made (vs Fury) and insists that there is an appetite for the fight with the public.
“I’m hoping for that fight. Me and Tyson Fury would be a great British summer fight. That’s why I’m fighting a southpaw now, because I’m getting prepared for one of these title fights, Usyk or Tyson Fury. I’m ready. With Fury, it’s a massive fight. Everyone wants to see it. It’s a great fight in the making.”
Despite Joyce being a wide favourite with the bookmakers, Zhang has impressive credentials himself. An Olympic silver medalist (Like Joyce) only recently lost his undefeated record in a razor-thin unanimous decision loss to Filip Hrgovic last August. Defeat to Hrgovic meant Zhang also missed out on becoming the IBF’s heavyweight mandatory challenger. However, many ringside observers believed that Zhang should have got the nod on that particular night.
Joyce knows of the task ahead of him on Saturday and feels that the fight may be “tricky.”
“It’s a very tricky fight, but no risk, no reward,” Joyce said of facing Zhilei. “I’m at the top of the sport right now and, you know, all I need is to cement that title. I think a victory with Zhilei is just progressing my journey further.”
Despite Joyce targeting a fight with Tyson Fury, Joyce holds him in high regard, and the pair have mutual respect towards each other. Joyce and Fury have often praised each other and have even been sparing partners, especially during the time that Fury was returning to the sport following his well-documented mental health issues in 2018.
“It’s really good, man,” Joyce said, “because I don’t get that recognition from a lot of people and Fury, like, he gives me that. So, yeah, respect. And, you know, I’ve shared some good rounds with him [in sparring] … But yeah, that’s actually the fight I want. I’m going to have to get past Zhieli Zhang first and, you know, hopefully we can make that fight. I’ve got a lot of respect for the Fury family, but that’s the fight I want.”