Joe Joyce took a tough upset loss to Zhilei Zhang in London, with referee Howard Foster stopping the bout in the sixth round on the advice of the ringside physician, after Joyce’s eye was swollen shut.
It’s the first career loss for Joyce (15-1, 14 KO), and the 37-year-old falls out of the immediate title mix in the heavyweight division, at least for now. There is a rematch clause that Joyce could activate, but we’ll also have to see how bad the injuries are, and whether or not he even wants to go right back in with Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO), who now — by virtue of having the interim WBO title — is part of the three-man queue for a mandatory shot at Oleksandr Usyk, with Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic.
Joyce was admirable and respectful in defeat, simply saying that Zhang’s left hand did too much damage, and that he’d have to look over the tape and come back.
He does vow to be back, though.
Here’s what Joyce said in the ring to talkSPORT:
On what went wrong in the fight
“Just getting hit by that left hand over and over. It’s like I couldn’t get away from it. He was quick and he’s strong and powerful and experienced. Credit to him and his team for getting the win.
“When you take risks, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. I’m just disappointed, but I’ll be back. It’s not the end of my journey. If I decide to rematch him next or whenever, I’ll be back. I’ll be reviewing my loss and seeing where I can make improvements and stuff, but yeah, just massively disappointed.
“I thought I’d get the win tonight, and sometimes — [chuckles] mate, sometimes it doesn’t go your way, and that’s what happened.”
“He just kept getting to my eye. I’m fine, I’m completely fine, but yeah — now it’s closed up, so I can’t see out of it now. It’s so disappointing when you get a loss, but I’ll be back. I’ll just have to go back to the drawing board. I haven’t fought a southpaw for a long time, so I just need to look over the tape.
“I thought I could have carried on. I was taking his shots fine and stuff. It’s just unfortunate the eye closed up, but I’ll be back.”
[referencing his win over Daniel Dubois] “It’s an eye for an eye now, I got my eye done. ... I got a bit of payback from Dubois, I guess. Maybe it’s karma.”
[on doing a rematch next] “Yeah, possibly. I’ll discuss with my team, see what my options are. It doesn’t look good, like, taking the rematches recently, so maybe I’ll take another one in the meantime or something like that. But I’d just say sorry to my friends and fans and family. I thought I’d get the win here, and I’ll be back.”