Zhilei Zhang left absolutely no doubt in his rematch with Joe Joyce, scoring a knockout at the end of the third round today in London.
Joyce never looked confident or comfortable in this fight, as he was overly cautious trying to fight more defensively, and just wasn’t producing any of his own offense.
The first round was also cautious on the Zhang side, but once he read the situation, he started opening up and landing left hands and right hooks in round two.
Between the second and third rounds, Joyce (15-2, 14 KO) looked mentally defeated in his body language in the corner, and the third round didn’t go much better for him. He still had no offense of his own, while Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KO) was connecting on shots.
A brutal right hook caught Joyce just before the bell, and the “Juggernaut” was dropped hard and counted out by referee Steve Gray.
“I feel very happy. Like I said, it would end sooner than the first fight. I did it,” Zhang said after the bout. “But Joe’s a hell of a fighter. Respect to him. I like him, I respect him.
“This is what we’re here for, we’re professional fighters. We’re here to entertain the crowd. I hope everybody enjoyed my performance.”
Zhang’s win sees him retain the WBO interim heavyweight title. He is behind IBF mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic in terms of the pecking order to face Oleksandr Usyk — who has the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles — but may have his sights set on WBC titleholder Tyson Fury, who is still sort of an active professional boxer, officially. Zhang asked if the crowd “wants to see him shut Tyson Fury up.”
Joyce did not do an immediate post-fight interview, which is understandable.
NOT A FLUKE.— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) September 23, 2023
Big Bang Zhang ends the rivalry with a highlight reel KO pic.twitter.com/kArwVgWzoR
On the undercard, light heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde stopped late replacement opponent Jorge Silva at 2:07 of the second round.
The 32-year-old Yarde is now 24-3 (23 KO) with an entirely predictable sort of win over the 40-year-old Silva (22-9, 12 KO), who isn’t even really as good as that fluffed-up record would make you think at a glance. He’s a club-level fighter who, to give him the respect due, made weight and showed up and gave Yarde a fight after the original opponent was out of the picture. It proves nothing for Yarde, but he got a camp in and got active, and now looks ahead to 2024.