Home Boxing News Zhilei Zhang says Joe Joyce rematch will be a repeat of first...

Zhilei Zhang says Joe Joyce rematch will be a repeat of first bout, former world champ not so sure

Zihlei Zhang (right) lands on Joe Joyce. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Heavyweight contender Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce 15-1 (14) will jump straight from the frying pan and into the fire when he takes on lone conqueror Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang 25-1-1 (20) in an immediate rematch at Wembley Arena in London, England on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Brit was simply too easy to hit in their first bout five months ago and seemed to struggle with Zhang’s southpaw stance. The 40-year-old from China bounced hard shots off Joyce’s head, damaging his right eye and forcing referee Howard Foster to halt the contest in the sixth on the advice of the ringside physician.

“It’s quite enjoyable to be in the ring with him,” Zhang said to Standard Sport. “He’s not moving his head, he’s not changing his position and angles. That makes my job easier.

“He is definitely heavy-handed, but not as heavy as I would have imagined.”

Zhang wanted to parlay the victory into a shot at WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury 33-0-1 (24), but Joyce’s insistence on a chance at revenge threw a spanner in the works.

“I was a little surprised when I first heard about the rematch,” Zhang said. “It’s in the contract, I knew he would activate it one way or another. But I didn’t expect it to be so fast.

“I would have expected him to fight one or two interim bouts in between, get used to a style and then take the rematch.

“It’s not rocket science that you can’t change to a different style in a few months. That’s why the second fight will end even quicker.

“I don’t do anything other than eat, sleep and train. At this age, I still feel I can compete for the heavyweight title. I am 100% confident that I will beat all these guys.”

Zhang is a slight favourite with bookmakers to repeat the treatment, but Joyce is not without his backers. You can count retired former world champion George Groves amongst them.

“I think Joyce can get revenge over Zhang, he was just painfully slow last time,” Groves told Bit Coin Casinos.

“He’s never been the quickest fighter, I’m not sure what training he was doing for the first fight, but he was frighteningly slow and ridiculously easy to hit. Zhang is not bad, he’s been around a long time and [Filip] Hrgovic squeezed past him.

“He’s a good fighter Zhang, but I think Joyce is a better fighter. He has a tenacious work rate and he’s a big strong dude — he’s the Juggernaut. But he can’t be so slow this time — he’s always going to eat punches — but if you’re going to be that slow you’re going to eat all of the punches and you don’t need to be that dude.

“I’m not sure whether he thought he was invincible or that he couldn’t be knocked out. But I think a sharper Joyce beats Zhang.

“But it’s a fascinating one. Rematches are fascinating because you’ve had the drama of the first fight and now you’ve got to go back to the well and do the camp again for the same dude and you’re wondering ‘are they going to be the same again or different or better?’.

“It’s an interesting one, but I’m picking Joyce to get revenge over Zhang in this one. He’s a better fighter and I think he will be better this time around.”