Pick It: TBRB #2 Joe Joyce vs. Zhang Zhilei (Saturday, ESPN+, 3:00 PM EST)

A pair of giant Olympic silver medalists with big punches and big chins are going to chuck leather. Does boxing get any more elemental than that? It’s the sport distilled to its root essence. The fact that both men are closer to forty than they are to thirty doesn’t diminish a thing.

They’re both still in the hearts of their career, a product of life’s timing more than the grind of time that keeps other men of the same age taking punches once hope has vanished. 37-year old Joe Joyce (15-0, 14 KO) enters off his best career win, a crowd-pleasing war that ended with former titlist Joseph Parker stopped for the first time. 39-year old Zhang Zhilei (24-1-1, 19 KO) was unlucky in a tight decision loss to Filip Hrgovic his last time out. One of them is going to take another step forward. It’s probably going to hurt like hell for them. It could be a joy for everyone watching.       

Additional Shows to Watch For

Friday - Santiago vs. Ortega (ESPN+, 9:00 PM EST)

Before the heavyweights get busy, ESPN will kick off their weekend with a Jr. flyweight main event. Neither man has the record of a major player but it’s a division where high action and drama are rarely far away. 31-year old Rene Santiago (10-3, 7 KO) enters off a disqualification win over undefeated Gerardo Zapata and has won four of his last five. 33-year old Carlos Ortega (15-6-3, 6 KO) is 1-1-1 in his last three and has only been stopped once.

Saturday - Trinidad vs. Ochoa (UFC Fight Pass, 11:00 PM EST)

Fight Pass will feature featherweight action in their evening’s lead. 27-year old Omar Trinidad (11-0-1, 9 KO) has shown some spark so far in his career and the Los Angeles native will try to extend his knockout streak to five. Adan Ochoa (12-2, 5 KO) has never been stopped. This one could be worth a look.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com