- What: Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce - WBO Heavyweight Interim Title Fight
- When: Saturday, September 23rd
- Where: OVO Arena Wembley, UK
Zhilei Zhang will be looking for another shock defeat against Englishman Joe Joyce on Saturday in London as he defends his WBO interim heavyweight title belt. He won that back in April by knocking out Joyce in the 6th round, with that bout also taking place in London. Saturday's affair will be at OVO Arena Wembley, which means Joyce once again has the home crowd behind him. Below, find the Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce picks.
Zhang vs Joyce Odds
While Zhang was an underdog earlier in the year, that is not the case in Saturday's match. The Chinese fighter is a slim -140 favorite with an implied win probability of 58.33%. Joyce comes back at 47.62%. The total in rounds is set at 10.5. If this is a battle, it could go the full 12.
Can Zhang Shock Joyce Again?
Zhilei Zhang is probably one of the best boxers to ever come out of China, sporting a career record of 25-1-1 including 20 knockouts. He is a big hitter. The 40-year-old won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in the super heavyweight division and currently holds a ranking of #4 in the heavyweight division, according to The Ring. The southpaw turned professional in 2014 and started things off with a bang, making quick work of Curtis Lee Tate with an early knockout. Zhang scratched off 22 wins in a row before settling for a draw with Jerry Forrest in 2021. Although he did collect two more victories after that, Zhang finally lost a fight in August of 2022 to Filip Hrgovic via unanimous decision.
But, it appears that defeat motivated "Big Bang" because he came out and absolutely worked Joyce on British soil. To be brutally honest, Zhang completely outboxed his opponent and destroyed his face with shot after shot. That led to the refs calling the bout because Joyce's eye was so beaten up.
Zhang's southpaw stance proved to be a serious issue for Joyce, who essentially just stood right in front of him and took punch after punch. Zhang is undoubtedly going to be rolling into Wembley with boatloads of confidence and already has a taste of what it takes to beat Joyce, a guy who had Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in his sights before Zhang stood in his way.
At 6 foot 6 with an 80 inch reach, Zhang has all the size to match up with Joyce as we saw in April. He's got a fantastic opportunity here to prove he is one of the best heavyweights around. A world title shot might not come, but Zhang can make his mark against a strong opponent for the second straight time.
Joyce Can't Lose
Joyce can't afford another loss here. It will be career-defining. As previously mentioned, the 38-year-old (As of Tuesday) had the chance to potentially take on Fury or Usyk to become the best heavyweight in the world, but Zhang stopped him in his tracks. This is a revenge fight.
The Brit won countless gold medals as an amateur and then took home a silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Just a year later, he decided to turn professional at 31. Since then, Joyce has compiled a 15-1 record, knocking out 14 opponents. He's capable of landing a big shot, but that will be difficult against a big guy like Zhang.
The most impressive wins in Joyce's career came against Daniel Dubois and former world heavyweight champ Joseph Parker, who he knocked out in 2022. That resulted in Joyce securing the WBO interim belt, which Zhang snatched right away from him.
Joyce was behind from the jump against "Big Bang". He actually threw far more punches, but Zhang landed 18 more power punches. That was a big reason Joyce's face looked like minced meat. Joyce has to be more composed and focused on Saturday and must change up his stance against Zhang since he is a southpaw. I expect him to make the necessary adjustments to make this one competitive. It won't be lopsided like their first clash.
Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce Picks
Joyce has never technically been put on the canvas. It was deemed a knockout in April because of his eye. I honestly don't know if he can overcome Zhang, a true veteran who is a real bruiser. Joyce will hold his own but towards the latter rounds, Zhang will secure the win. We're going to go with a specific bet of the Chinese star coming out victorious between rounds 9-12. At +500 odds, you don't need to put a lot of money on it, either.
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