The British Boxing Board of Control has assigned a judge apiece from the home countries of Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce and a judge from neither fighter’s homeland to their heavyweight championship rematch Saturday night.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that South Africa’s Deon Dwarte, China’s Mark Leong and England’s Marcus McDonnell will work their second 12-round fight for the WBO interim championship Zhang won from Joyce five months ago. England’s Steve Gray has been chosen as the referee for Zhang-Joyce II, which will headline a Queensberry Promotions card at OVO Wembley Arena in London.
China’s Zhang upset England’s Joyce by sixth-round technical knockout April 15 at Copper Box Arena in London. British referee Howard Foster took the advice of a British Boxing Board of Control physician and stopped their bout at 1:23 of the sixth round because of severe swelling around Joyce’s right eye, which Zhang caused by continually landing left hands for five-plus rounds.
The judges nevertheless had their scheduled 12-round bout close on the scorecards through five rounds.
England’s Phil Edwards had Joyce ahead, 48-47, entering the sixth round. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist trailed Zhang by the same score, 48-47, on the scorecards of Wisconsin’s Mike Fitzgerald and Florida’s Efrain Lebron.
The 6-foot-6, 256-pound Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs), who exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch, was a 9-1 favorite in advance of that optional title defense. He was also the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of Oleksandr Usyk’s four titles, a position that the 6-foot-6, 278-pound Zhang attained by beating Joyce.
Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs), who won a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, is slightly favored to win their second bout, according to most sportsbooks.
TNT Sports will televise this rematch between Zhang, 40, and Joyce, 38, as the main event of a multi-bout broadcast scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. BST in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It’ll headline a show ESPN+ will stream in the United States, starting at 2 p.m. EDT and 11 a.m. PDT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.