The British heavyweight promised a much-improved performance in the rematch, and yet, it was anything but that. Despite avoiding Zhang’s power punches in the first round by boxing on the outside, it was the same old story in the following rounds. Zhang continued to connect with his left hand, but it was the right hook that brought the fight to an end in the third round.
The victory meant that Zhang retained his WBO interim heavyweight title, putting him in line to face Oleksandr Usyk. Meanwhile, a defeat for Joyce leaves the latter with not a lot of options. At the age of 38, a heavyweight title shot is unlikely, while a fight with Joyce presents a high-risk, low-reward bout for other fighters. With that being said, this is what Warren had to say.
“He’s 38, but he’s not got a lot of miles on the clock as far as being a pro boxer is concerned. It was his 16th or 17th fight. We’ll see. It’s up to him. He seriously needs to consider it (retirement), because it’s not going to be an easy journey back. There are some good fights out there but none of those fights are easy,” Warrensaid
Despite this being the case, Joyce has ruled out retirement. In the aftermath of the loss, Joyce felt he still had a lot to offer moving forward. As of now, a domestic fight with Daniel Dubois may make sense. The pair have faced each other, with Joyce having come out victorious. And following both fighters’ recent losses, with Dubois being stopped by Uysk, a pathway could open up for a rematch. After all, both fighters have a good working relationship with Queensbury Promotions.
“Joe is an elite warrior who constantly challenges himself against those at the top level of heavyweight boxing – he has one of the best CVs of any active heavyweight. He lost to an elite world-level fighter in Zhilei Zhang but will continue to challenge at the top level. We will meet as a team this week together with [promoters] Frank and George Warren and plan the way forward,” SJAM Management (Joyce’s management team).