Frank Warren rejects the notion that his company has given up on Joe Joyce.

Last Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London, China’s Zhilei Zhang stopped Joe Joyce for the second consecutive fight with a brutal right hook in the third round to remain the interim titlist for the WBO heavyweight title. Their first encounter back in April ended with Zhang forcing a stoppage in the sixth round.

After the rematch on Saturday, certain viewers seemed to take issue with Warren, the head of Queensberry Promotions, for suggesting that Joyce should seriously consider retirement because of the vicious nature of the knockout. Warren has promoted Joyce since 2019.

Warren castigated those who were claiming that he had abandoned Joyce, saying his remarks were completely misinterpreted. Warren said he will support Joyce in whatever decision he chooses and urged skeptics to look at his track record for rehabilitating his fighters, such as heavyweight Daniel Dubois. Joyce, to be sure, insisted immediately after the loss that he would be continuing his career.

“That’s his choice (regarding retirement),” Warren told iFL TV. “The criticism I got was that I was giving him up. I didn’t say that. People don’t listen. They don’t listen to what I said. I know what I said. Go back and listen rather than grab something out of the air and interpret it to something that wasn’t even [said]….I can’t be responsible for what they say. I can only be responsible for what I do and what I intend to do.

“And I intend to stand by Joe Joyce. The same as I stood by Daniel Dubois, the same that I stand by any fighter I work with if they get beat. We bring them back. There are two fighters on that card, one suffered a serious hand injury in [super middleweight contender] Zach Parker, which was a final eliminator for a world title. We put him back in. We got behind him and hopefully he’ll be back in contention to get another crack at the title. We’ve done the same with [light heavyweight contender] Anthony Yarde. That’s what we do. We stick by our guys. We don’t discard them. I wouldn’t do that. And I certainly wouldn’t do that because I like working with them.”

Zhang will continue to fight under the Queensberry Promotions umbrella for the foreseeable future, according to his representatives.

If Joyce decides to continue fighting, Warren says he will pair him with fighters ranked in the top-ten of most sanctioning body rankings.

“They’re against guys that are ranked in the top-ten,” Joyce said. “That’s not a step backwards. There are fights there if he wants to do that. It’s a big if he wants to do it. And if he does…then I will move heaven and earth to work with him and help him.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.