In September 2022, he achieved the most significant win of his career by knocking out former champion Joseph Parker in the 11th round.
The WBO has awarded Joyce with the ‘interim’ title, which guarantees him the opportunity to challenge the reigning champion, Oleksandr Usyk, provided that he comes out unscathed against Zhang.
🔥 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗝𝗨𝗚𝗚𝗘𝗥𝗡𝗔𝗨𝗧 𝗥𝗘𝗧𝗨𝗥𝗡𝗦 𝗧𝗢 𝗔𝗖𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 🔥
🏆 Joe Joyce 🆚 Zhang Zhilei
WBO Interim Heavyweight Championship 🏆
— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) April 10, 2023
The latter faced the undefeated Filip Hrgovic in his last fight, and while he came out second best, it was a fight that could have swung either way on the scorecards.
And given his southpaw stance, coupled with his experience, albeit at the age of 39, Joyce has his work cut out if he is not on his A-game.
And that motivation has only been added to following the WBO’s insistence that Daniel Dubois get the first shot at Usyk as a WBA mandatory.
Clearly, that left Joyce irked, given that he had beaten Dubois himself with a ten-round knockout.
“It is annoying. It’s really annoying that Dubois is ahead in the queue, and [Filip] Hrgovic as well. It’s out of my control and unfortunate.
“But fortunate for Dubois to come off a devastating loss [to me] and then be before me in the selection for the [shot at Usyk]. Only in boxing would this stuff happen. Nothing really surprises me,” Joyce speaking to Sky Sports
But one thing that has gotten Joyce revved up has been the possibility of facing Tyson Fury. The ‘Gypsy King’ had been on course to face Usyk in what would have been an undisputed clash.
While that may have been the case, talks ultimately broke down, which may have paved the way for Joyce to face Fury.
“I’m hoping for that fight. Me and Tyson Fury would be a great British summer fight. That’s why I’m fighting a southpaw now, because I’m getting prepared for one of these title fights, Usyk or Tyson Fury.
“I’m ready. With Fury, it’s a massive fight. Everyone wants to see it. It’s a great fight in the making,” BoxingScene.com