After securing several stoppages to propel his career, Joe Joyce was initially hopeful that his violent handiwork would lead to a world title shot. Still, even with his propensity for cataclysmically ending the night of his foes, Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) will first be asked to wait.
With both Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury crossing their t’s and dotting their i’s during negotiations, the 37-year-old former Olympian is opting for activity. While the division’s two kingpins are heading towards a collision course, Joyce will officially square off against Zhang Zhilei on April 15th.
Down on his luck, Zhilei (24-1-1, 19 KOs) believed that he made the move from wild card to bonafide contender. On August 20th, 2022, the gigantic Chinese native sent Filip Hrgovic crashing down to the deck before seemingly outworking his man. But, regardless of believing he should have been given the victory, Zhilei was despondent as he was forced to swallow the first defeat of his career.
Presently, despite his sparkling performance, oddsmakers don’t exactly like Zhilei’s chances against Joyce, placing him as a huge underdog. Eddie Hearn, on the other hand, is ostensibly in agreement with the betting world. However, considering Zhilei’s ability to turn out just about anyone’s lights, the longtime promoter isn’t going to summarily dismiss his chances at pulling off the unthinkable.
“He’s at the back end of his career but he can really punch,” said Hearn to a group of reporters. “I think everybody, including Zhang Zhilei, is gonna struggle with the work rate of Joe Joyce. And Joe Joyce will overrun Zhang Zhilei but he can really punch and Joe Joyce will be open, as always, to get hit flush on the chin.”
Placing his hands up high and tucking his chin away hasn’t been of the utmost importance to Joyce. Although countless foes have exploited his defensive deficiencies, Joyce has proven to have an unreal chin. Nevertheless, as Hearn sifts through his resume, he becomes astonished by one glaring pattern that has happened time and time again.
“People talk about how good Joe Joyce’s chin is, but he’s never really fought a massive puncher, other than Daniel Dubois who didn’t really hit him on the chin.”
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