Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang Preview September 23rd, 2023
Zhilei Zhang ‘s WBO Interim World Heavyweight Title is on the line at Wembley Arena in London, England this Saturday, September 23rd when he takes on local hero Joe Joyce. The 12-round rematch can be seen live in the UK on TNT Sports while those in America can catch the action on ESPN+. The two first met in April with Zhang taking the belt when the doctor stopped the fight in the sixth round due to Joyce’s damaged right eye. Joyce had won the vacant WBO Interim Title last September by stopping former world champion Joseph Parker in the 11th round in a highly-entertaining fight. Zhang’s previous bout was August, 2022 when he dropped a controversial 12-round unanimous decision to Filip Hrgovic.
Joyce vs Zhang Betting Odds
- Joe Joyce +100
- Zhilei Zhang -130
The 37-year-old Joyce didn’t turn pro until late in 2017 after a fine amateur career which saw him win gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 European Games. He also took home a silver from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the super-heavyweight division when he lost the gold-medal match to Tony Yoka of France. Joyce owns an impressive record of 15-1 with 14 wins coming by way of knockout.
He stands 6-feet-6-inches tall with an 80-inch reach and it’s obvious he has some power in his fists with a highly-impressive 93.3 per cent knockout ratio. His opponents so far have been Zhang, former World Champion Joseph Parker, Christian Hammer, Carlos Takam, Daniel Dubois, Michael Wallisch, Bryant Jennings, Alexander Ustinov, former WBC World Champion Bermane Stiverne, Ian Lewison, Rudolf Jozic, Donnie Palmer, Lenroy Thomas, Ivica Bacurin, Iago Kiladze and Joe Hanks.
It may not be the cream of the crop in the heavyweight division but it’s a solid list and each one of his opponents had a winning record. Joyce has also won several WBC and WBO minor belts as he captured the British, European and Commonwealth Titles when he halted young prospect Daniel Dubois in the 10th round in 2020. He also won the vacant WBA Continental Heavyweight Belt when he beat Hanks in 2018.
Joyce’s boxing skills haven’t had a chance to be showcased very often though as he has four first-round Ko’s as well as one in the second and two in the third and has boxed just 80 rounds since turning pro. The only time he’s gone the distance as a pro was against Bryant, who lasted 12 rounds in July, 2019 but dropped a unanimous decision. Joyce’s chin is quite solid as Parker nailed him with some bombs last year and he took them well. However, his eye worsened against Zhang round after round as Joyce absorbed some punishing jabs and left hands.
The southpaw Zhang is now 40 years old and has a fine mark of 25-1-1 with 20 Ko’s with his loss to Hrgovic being his only pro defeat. His record was also built on power as 80 per cent of his wins have been by stoppage. He’s boxed just 90 rounds since turning pro in 2014 and has gone 10 rounds twice and 12 rounds just once. The first time he went the distance was in November, 2019 when he beat Andriy Rudenko by unanimous decision to retain his WBO Oriental Heavyweight Title which he won back in 2017 with a first-round stoppage of Peter Graham.
He fought to a 10-round draw with Jerry Forrest in February, 2021 after dropping Forrest in each of the first three rounds and then having a point deducted for holding in the ninth round. Zhang completely ran out of gas in that fight and seemed to be out on his feet several times from pure exhaustion but managed to see the final bell. He went 12 rounds with Hrgovic last year and lost 115-112, 115-12 and 114-113 on the judges’ scorecards.
Like Joyce, Zhang stands 6-feet-6-inches with an 80-inch wingspan. His list of opponents so far include the likes of Hrgovic, Scott Alexander, Rudenko, Forrest, Devin Vargas, Byron Polley, Curtis Harper, Mark Brown Galen Brown, Curtis Harper and Don Haynesworth. Even at his age, Zhang is starting to make a name around the world as a pro due to his power and also enjoyed quite a fine amateur career.
Zhang, who now fights out of New Jersey, won a silver medal for China as a super heavyweight at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as a bronze medal at the world amateur championships in 2007 and 2009. He was beaten in the amateurs by Grzegorz Kielsa, Odlanier Solis, Vyacheslav Glazkov, Roberto Cammarelle and Anthony Joshua but had a win over Joseph Parker.
This is going to be an interesting rematch as we’ll see how Joyce adapts to Zhang’s style. Joyce has good overall boxing skills but it’s usually his power that ends fights. Zhang also has great power but appears to tire later on in bouts. He got off to a great start against Joyce in April with accurate, punishing shots, but then seemed to either take his foot off the gas or run out of it as the fight went on. This allowed Joyce to gain some confidence as the fight progressed. In fact, Joyce was reportedly ahead by a point at the time of the stoppage on one of the judge’s scorecards while the other two judges has Zhang up by a point. Joyce landed 85 of 469 punches thrown while Zhang connected on 82 of 180. Joyce also threw at least 100 punches in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, but many of them lacked power. This is a tough call but I think if Joyce can somehow negate Zhang’s left hand and right hook, he could scrape through with a win.
Joyce’s punch output could be the difference.
Play Joyce +100 @ BetOnline.ag
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