Heavyweights Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce are now officially set for their rematch, with Sept. 23 at London’s OVO Arena Wembley the official date and venue.
The two had been previously rumored to be headed for a Sept. 2 date in London.
The 40-year-old Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO) upset Joyce (15-1, 14 KO) on April 15 at London’s Copper Box Arena, battering Joyce’s eye until there was no choice but to stop the fight in the sixth round. It was a compelling bout, with Zhang doing obvious damage and dominating much of the fight, but there was some good reason to believe that Joyce, 37, may have been able to turn things around in the second half of the fight if he’d been able to get there.
One suspects Zhang will see if that same target is there this time, and that Joyce, not exactly a defensive specialist, may try to force Zhang into some other tactic, and may look to get the snowball rolling downhill from the jump in this one.
Given the state of the heavyweight division, with Tyson Fury claiming nobody wants to fight him and Oleksandr Usyk’s three belts tied up with mandatory defenses if not Fury, this rematch made sense for both guys, as Joyce tries to immediately even the score and Zhang tries to keep his seat at the table, waiting on his turn with the WBO.
Zhang does hold the interim WBO title, which will be at stake again. Joyce had beaten Joseph Parker to win that interim title in Sept. 2022.