Joe Joyce vs Zhilei Zhang Preview April 15th, 2023
The WBO Interim World Heavyweight Title is on the line in London, England this Saturday, April 15th as unbeaten Joe Joyce of London takes on Zhilei Zhang of China. The 12-rounder can be seen live in the UK on BT Sport while those in America can catch the action on ESPN+. Joyce last fought in September when he won the vacant WBO Interim Title by stopping former world champion Joseph Parker in the 11th round in a highly-entertaining fight. Zhang last saw action in August when he dropped a controversial 12-round unanimous decision to Filip Hrgovic.
Joyce vs Zhang Betting Odds
- Zhilei Zhang +550
- Joe Joyce -900
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 a perfect record of 15-0 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 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 won several WBC and WBO minor belts as 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 74 rounds since turning pro. The only man to go the distance with him so far has been Bryant, who lasted 12 rounds in July, 2019 but dropped a unanimous decision. Joyce’s chin has proved to be quite solid as Parker nailed him with some bombs in September and he took them well.
The southpaw Zhang is 39 years old but has a near-perfect mark of 24-1-1 with 19 Ko’s with his loss to Hrgovic being his only pro defeat. His record was also built on power as he owns a current knockout ratio of 73.1 per cent. He’s boxed just 84 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 but has an unlisted reach. 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. 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.
He won a silver medal 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 fine heavyweight matchup as it pits power against power and both guys have good chins. It’s probably safe to say Joyce has overachieved during his career since he’s a lot better than many people believed. He possesses an excellent jab but still appears to slap some of his punches rather than getting full power behind them as he has a bit of an awkward style. Joyce has good overall boxing skills but it’s usually his power that ends fights. Zhang also has great power but he seems to tire later on in fights and that means he needs to make sure he gets out to a good start against Joyce. The hometown Joyce will get the benefit of UK judging here if it goes the distance but as long as his chin holds up he should box his way to victory on Saturday.
Joyce’s chin and jab should be the difference.
Play Joyce -900 @ BetOnline.ag
Check out my recent boxing betting picks to see my current form.