Yarde feels stablemate Joyce will face defeat once again against Zhang unless game plan is changed

Two-time world title challenger and light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde believes that his promotional stablemate Joe Joyce has his work cut out to reverse the blemish on his record when he steps in the ring against Zhilei Zhang this upcoming Saturday.

Heavyweights Joyce [15-1 14KO’s] and Zhang [25-1-1 20KO’s] will again face off in the ring in London, with Joyce seeking to reclaim the WBO heavyweight mandatory position, which he lost to his Chinese counterpart in April of this year. Zhang would defeat Joyce inside six rounds following an accumulation of damage which Joyce had sustained to his right eye following several left-handed shots, which ultimately forced the ringside doctor to withdraw Joyuce from the contest.

However, Zhang was ultimately the dominant fighter in proceedings and tore up the perceived script that Joyce was supposed to win the encounter and proceed towards a meeting with unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

Yarde, who himself returns on the same bill as Joyce as the chief support, feels that Joyce and his handlers mistakenly picked Zhang as an opponent in the first place, considering the position Joyce found himself in prior to the original contest.

“I was surprised he took the first fight with Zhang. He was mandatory for champion Oleksandr Usyk and there was talk of a fight with Anthony Joshua.” Yarde wrote in his column for BBC Sport.

“So why fight someone as dangerous as Zhang? A lump of 19 stone. And he’s not fat or out of shape. He is a unit.

“Joyce should have fought somebody else or just waited for Joshua or Usyk.”

Despite wanting Joyce to right the wrongs from that night in April, he feels that Joyce will suffer the same outcome unless he and trainer Ismael Salas can devise a perfect game plan.

“I really want Joyce to get revenge and be back in the mix for a world title, but he has his work cut out.

“He was getting hit with some clean backhands in the first fight. I was ringside and could hear the shots being landed.

“I don’t see him beating Zhang unless he can somehow execute a perfect gameplan.

“Make Zhang tired. Take it to him early, rough him up early and then get him to the sixth round. Zhang has a history of tiring.

“Move your head a little bit more and don’t get hit with the backhand, and then he will have a great chance of winning.”