The upcoming rematch between Zhilei "Big Bang" Zhang and Joe "Juggernaut" Joyce promises to be an intriguing bout, especially after Zhang's surprise upset victory in their previous encounter.
Here's a preview and prediction for the fight:
In their last meeting, Zhang dominated Joyce from the outset, landing big shots early on and ultimately forcing Joyce to retire due to a closed right eye in the sixth round. Despite Joyce's attempts to rally in the later rounds, Zhang's speed and accuracy were too much for him.
Both Zhang and Joyce have impressive amateur backgrounds, with Olympic silver medals to their names. Zhang won his silver in Beijing 2008, while Joyce claimed his in London 2012.
Zhang has a record of 25-1-1, with notable bouts including a draw against Jerry Forrest in February 2021 and a narrow points loss to Filip Hrgovic in August 2022. In both cases, Zhang showed promise but fell short. His loss to Hrgovic was particularly close, with some believing he deserved the win.
Joyce, at 37 years old, has a record of 15-1, with prestigious titles from the WBC (Silver), WBA (Gold), and WBO (Interim). Known for his durability, endurance, and relentless pace, Joyce has a fearsome 93% KO ratio.
While Joyce's style has carried him far, his lack of head movement and rigidity have been noted as weaknesses. Zhang exposed these weaknesses in their previous fight, showing that Joyce can be stopped with hard, pinpoint punches.
The prediction for this rematch is that Zhang will maintain the confidence and composure he displayed in their first encounter, now with the added advantage of being the defending champion. Joyce will likely make improvements, but it remains to be seen how much he can adapt at this stage in his career. He needs to work on his head movement and avoid absorbing heavy shots, but it's unclear if he can make significant changes to his style.
The verdict is that Zhilei Zhang will weather an early storm from Joe Joyce during the opening rounds and ultimately win by knockout in rounds 6-10. This prediction is based on Zhang's previous victory and his potential to exploit Joyce's weaknesses once again. However, boxing is unpredictable, and anything can happen in the ring.