Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1 )produced the biggest win of his career to date with an impressive and emphatic win over Joe Joyce (15-1) at the Copper Box Arena in London, wrestling the mandatory challenger status away from Joyce with a stoppage victory in the sixth round. The stoppage came after the ringside doctor ruled that Joyce was in no position to continue following a large amount of swelling around the right eye of Joyce. The damage came from a number of clean left-handed shots, which gave Joyce issues all night long, with damage being visible as early as the second round.
Speaking post-fight with several journalists in a media scrum, Zhang felt he was overlooked by many within the industry in the lead-up to the contest with Joyce.
“ I felt that people were overlooking me in regards to my stamina and conditioning after the Hrgovic fight (August 2022). I had a very successful training camp with my conditioning trainer and boxing trainer keeping on top of the concerns that people had coming into the fight. I knew Joyce would have wanted to take me into deep water and drown me. I was ready for twelve rounds.”
George Warren of Queensberry Promotions confirmed that there is a rematch clause in favour of Joyce if he chooses to activate that contractual option. When asked, Zhang was receptive to a rematch saying the ball was in his hands.
“ I will do that rematch if he wants it in London, China or New York, it could be anywhere, and i will do it.”
Zhang, who claimed the stoppage win felt that he had to win by stoppage following his previous fight with Filip Hrgovic, “I knew i had to win by knockout following my last fight. The fight was in my destiny, and i knew i could not let the judges take that away from me again.”
Zhang was asked who he wished to fight next if he could pick his next opponent despite the rematch clause option in favour of Joyce. However, that needs to be clarified due to the injuries sustained by the Briton.
Zhang replied, “I want to fight Tyson Fury (WBC world heavyweight champion) in China.”