On April 15 Zhilei Zhang dominated Joe Joyce with shocking ease, stopping 'the Juggernaut' in six largely one-sided rounds. Yes, he got tax and audited.
With a rematch clause in place (and yeah, I hate those things), they run it back this Saturday at Wembley Stadium in England.
It wasn't so much that Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) beat Joyce that was really surprising, but the manner in which he did so. From the very onset, he kept beating Joyce to the punch, and hammered him with big left hands.
Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs), who's been one of the more entertaining fighters of recent time, was never able to get going in this contest. While he tried his best at times to ramp up his activity, Joyce simply couldn't get out of the way of Zhang's power, which closed his right eye.
What was expected to be a competitive heavyweight slugfest, instead became a bit of a one-sided drubbing. On the strength of that victory, Zhang is now rated fourth in the heavyweight division by Ring Magazine.
The fight left you wondering if Joyce had gone backwards physically. That at the age of 38, the despite the relatively low number of professional bouts, that he is now a fighter on the downward slope. The effects of past ring battles now catching up to him.
He looked like a fighter who had lost a step he never had -- or could ill-afford to lose. Joyce has always been a bit of a plodder, but he was downright ponderous on that April evening at the Copper Box Arena.
Who knows, maybe it was just a bad night at the office. Or maybe, this is just what he is now.
While that takes place on ESPN+ in the afternoon, later on Saturday evening from the Caribe Royale Orlando in Florida, a crossroads match-up takes place on DAZN in the junior welterweight division between former belt-holder, Jose Zepeda (37-3, 28 KOs) against upstart Richardson Hitchins (16-0, 7 KOs).
I was surprised to learn that Hitchins is about a 5-to-1 favorite. That seems a tad steep but there's no doubt that Hitchins is a sound all-around boxer with sharp skills. He showcased that in his last outing as he decisively beat the unbeaten, John Bauza over 10 rounds.
The 25-year old native of Brooklyn believes he's headed for big things, and he's made it clear that he should be in the mix versus the blue-chip junior welterweights in the very near future. This fight is designed to put him on the fast track with various titles (such as the NABF and NABO) on the line.
But Zepeda is no stranger to being put in front of confident young prospects. Who can forget the fall of 2021 when he delivered a brutal-- and embarrassing -- Yet that seems so long ago and it seems as though Hitchins, unlike Vargas, is the real article.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Mario Lopez and I discuss everything in the world of boxing, and we preview the aforementioned heavyweight rematch:
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Earlier this week Kenshiro Teraji and Junto Nakatani had solid outings and retained their world titles in Japan....Conor Benn, for better or worse, has been cleared to fight on the card in Orlando....Big college football weekend this Saturday. Please don't bother me... I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....