Frank Warren hopes his crestfallen heavyweight charge, Joe Joyce, will give retirement a hard look.
Joyce, the longtime heavyweight contender from England, suffered a brutal knockout loss to China’s Zhilei Zhang in the third round of their 12-round rematch Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London. In their first encounter in April, Zhang scored a technical stoppage in the sixth round.
The win means Zhang will continue to own the WBO interim title. The WBO champion proper is unified champion Oleksandr Usyk, who also owns the WBA and IBF titles.
Warren, the head of Queensberry Promotions, believes his charge can back another run at a comeback to title contention. At the same time, he hopes the 38 year old will think seriously about hanging up the gloves.
“Fighters lose and come back,” Warren said. “I’ve seen that on many occasions. He’s 38, but he’s not got a lot of miles on the clock as far as being a pro boxer is concerned. It was his 16th or 17th fight. We’ll see. It’s up to him.
“He seriously needs to consider it (retirement), because it’s not going to be an easy journey back. There are some good fights out there but none of those fights are easy.”
Warren was pleased by Joyce’s performance in the first two rounds, saying he was able to neutralize Zhang’s offense. But it all went to pieces in the third round, when Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) landed a left to the body followed by a right hook that dropped Joyce (15-2, 14 KOs) to the canvas. Joyce was slow to get back on his feet and the referee counted him out.
“He was doing alright up to the first two rounds,” Warren said. “He was negating the southpaw style of Zhang but unfortunately [he had a] lapse of concentration and things moved the other way. He had a little bit of an exchange and got caught with a world-class punch. It was a world-class knockout.”
After the fight, Zhang called out WBC heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury, who is promoted by Warren.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.