Once again Zhilei Zhang stopped Joe Joyce. Only this time it took half as much time. When they first faced each other back in April, Zhang scored a sixth round stoppage. It only took three rounds on Saturday at the Wembley Arena for Zhang to finish the job.
Like their previous encounter, Joyce had no answers for the big left of Zhang, who struck him at will with his preferred weapon of choice. And much like their first bout, Joyce got hurt early and often by that punch.
But it was a clean up right hook in the sixth that sent Joyce to the canvas, and ended the fight.
It's time to say it: Zhang is among the most dangerous and elite big men in the world. While much of the focus on the division is centered on lineal champion, Tyson Fury, unified belt-holder, Oleksandr Usyk, and former titlists, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, 'the Big Bang' is a threat to anyone in this division.
Let's make this clear, this isn't to say that he's the best big man in the world, but at 6'6, 280-pounds, southpaw, heavy handed with some fluidity, Zhang is a tough out for anyone in this weight class. He also moves fairly well for a man his size, and his fighting with more confidence than ever. Currently, Ring Magazine has him rated fourth behind the aforementioned quartet.
But with the current logjam involving the upper echelon of the division, you wonder when Zhang (who is the WBO interim champion) will get to mix with those names. Regardless, he is now a bona-fide contender who is now a guy that the public has a genuine interest in seeing him in key match-ups.
The future is much murkier for Joyce (15-2 14 KOs), who has know not only dropped consecutive bouts, but was stopped in both of them. At 38 years old, in the last two outings he has looked like a boxer on the back nine headed into the clubhouse. Ironically, he's two years younger than his Chinese foe, but that's further proof that boxers don't just age chronologically. 'the Juggernaut' now faces an uncertain future.
The reason why Zhang-Joyce II came to fruition, despite the lopsided nature of their first fight, was because of one of those dreaded rematch clauses that I hate so much. Yeah, I get why these things exist, it doesn't mean that I have to like them. There should be a better reason to have a immediate return match other than it being in the contract. Their first clash was a one-sided beating. The second one was a blowout.
Now, perhaps this represented the biggest money opportunity for both boxers, and for Zhang, a chance to stay active, but it wasn't all that difficult to forecast what took place this past weekend.
It happened once, it was bound to happen again.
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