THE manager of heavyweight Zhilei Zhang says a rematch with Joe Joyce could potentially end the Brit’s career.
Last month in London the two giants went toe-to-toe with Zhang 25-1-1 (20) emerging the winner in emphatic fashion. Joyce, notoriously a slow starter, paid the price and began taking heavy left hands from his opponent. The pattern of the fight rarely changed with Joyce on the back foot under sustained pressure.
By the end of round three Joyce’s eye was beginning to close and he could do little to fend off the Chinese colossus. In the sixth session the fight was stopped after the ringside physician examined the damaged eye.
Joyce, promoted by Queensberry, had a rematch clause in place in case of a defeat. It’s now been revealed that the 37-year-old plans to activate that option. Zhang, who now fights under the same banner having beat ‘The Juggernaut’, was named as the “front-runner” to face Tyson Fury (co-promoted by Queensberry) in the next defence of his title.
Boxing news spoke to the 40-year-old’s manager Terry Lane about Joyce’s plans to face his man next.
“We’re gonna follow their [Queensberry Promotions] lead, we’re working with them, they’re great collaborators,” he began.
“They have some ideas and we’re just gonna follow their lead. Having said that just a couple of thoughts here about the Joe Joyce rematch. We saw that coming. If he were to rematch us again, he would sustain such a severe beating. Probably not in the UK, probably China or the US. It could be career ending. It’s just a bad style matchup.
“We really respect Joe and his team. There is a path for him to bigger fights but it’s not through us. I don’t know why he would choose this especially after the result. I’ve seen the comments online, I don’t think there’s much of an appetite to see the rematch especially right away.
“We’ve had a long hard road. We earned our shot to bigger fights. Look, if Joe wants to enact the rematch clause and Queensberry want to do it, we’ll do it. I don’t know if that’s a good idea by Joe’s team. I think the last person that wants to see the Zhang rematch is Joe Joyce. It smells like this could be a step aside but we’re not even that far down [the line], we’re seeing what Queensberry want to do.”
In 2008 Zhang won an Olympic silver medal in the super-heavyweight division losing to Italian Roberto Cammarelle in the final. After a stellar amateur career, he made his professional debut in 2014 and has had 27 fights since. Lane told BN that the objective has always been for ‘Big Bang’ to become heavyweight champion no matter who it’s against.
“Obviously, when you turn pro as an elite heavyweight the goal is to become champion of the world. I think he wants the opportunity to fight for the heavyweight crown whether it be Usyk, whether it be Fury. I think it’s safe to say we’d love to do the Tyson Fury fight. But if Joe Joyce really wants to do a rematch, we’re happy to do that whether it’s next or in the future. I don’t want to say it doesn’t matter to us, but contracts are contracts. I gotta say I think Joe Joyce’s team are playing this really bad.”