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Zhilei Zhang ready for potential Joe Joyce rematch, discusses upset win and heavyweight future

Zhilei Zhang says he’s ready if there is going to be a Joe Joyce rematch, and breaks down his upset win.

Zhilei Zhang says he’s ready if there is going to be a Joe Joyce rematch
Zhilei Zhang says he’s ready if there is going to be a Joe Joyce rematch
Photo by Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

The dust has settled on last week’s heavyweight contest inside east London’s Copper Box, as Zhilei Zhang threw his name into the heavyweight mix following a sixth round stoppage of previously unbeaten Joe Joyce.

Zhang cashed in on his promise to Bad Left Hook. He claimed he would be the “armour-piercing” to Joe Joyce’s “Juggernaut” and this proved to be the case as he peppered the right eye of the Briton forcing a gruesome stoppage halfway through the argument.

Thoughts are already turning to what is next for the 39-year-old, and with help from his translator Kurt Li, he spoke with Bad Left Hook about the fight and what could come now.

Was Joe Joyce easier to hit than you expected?

We prepared for every situation in the training camp. We all know that Joe is strong, tough and durable. I was really cautious in the fight, because it only takes one shot in the heavyweight division. He’s really good but maybe I prepared a little bit better in camp.

Was it your foot speed that was the biggest difference?

It’s one of the biggest differences. My coach had me move way more than before in training camp. I can’t become a target. I enforced the strategy in the fight.

What did it feel like to get hit clean by Joyce?

Everyone knows that Joe is a very hard puncher. I really tried not to get hit by Joe but he hit me with a few shots. It hurt. So I had to stay sharp all the time.

What will this mean to the people of China?

Everyone knows that the heavyweight division has been dominated by Europeans and Americans. It’s very rare that people see Asian faces at this level. This victory put Chinese heavyweight boxing in a very important place in the world. It’s inspiring.

Will you be happy to take a rematch?

Of course. If Joe wants to enforce the rematch clause, I’m in.

Do you feel like you’re the perfect package for a heavyweight?

Perfect is a heavy word. I hope I’m getting there but I still have things to work on. There’s going to be that day where I become the perfect package.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles

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