Joe Joyce looked in good shape as he walked the red carpet at the massive Tyson Fury - Francis Ngannou launch event in London on Thursday.
Joyce has some pressing business of his own. On September 23rd he rematches Zhilei Zhang in a must win rematch for the WBO Interim heavyweight title.
Despite previously pushing the highly rated Filip Hrgovic to a contentious decision loss, 40 year old Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO’s) was overlooked in April but produced an outstanding display, busting Joyce up and stopping him in six rounds. Joyce (15-1, 14 KO’s) tipped the scales at 256lbs for the fight - his lowest for five years - and looked totally out of sorts. It isn’t a mistake he is planning on repeating.
“I’m feeling good. I’m focused, a bit heavier and good to go,” Joyce told Carl Frampton. “If I’d won the fight like that then no mistakes I’d made in the first camp would have been corrected. Going forward it’s given me a wake up call to get things right.’
In the first fight, Joyce tried to rumble forward in his usual relentless way but paid a heavy price for almost every attack. ‘The Juggernaut’ found Zhang’s southpaw stance a difficult puzzle to solve and quickly ran out of ideas, willing himself on through sheer determination. The fight was stopped due to a severe swelling around Joyce’s right eye but he absorbed a worrying amount of punishment all night. Joyce will never be found wanting for desire and effort but is 37 years old and has had only five months to make some drastic technical changes. Nonetheless, he is confident he has got things right this time.
“I’ve got everything right. I’ve been a lot more disciplined and focused and switched on,” he said. “Maybe I took my eye off the ball a little bit in the first fight and I’m just making sure I’ve ticked all the boxes and dotted all the i’s. It’s a bit more practice with the southpaw stance in terms of sparring and technique and tactics but also getting my body bigger and stronger and more ready for the job of fighting Zhang. Zhang surprised me with his speedy accuracy and power and I got the tactics wrong on the night. There were a lot of things to nitpick that have been handled in this camp.”