Joe Joyce won’t go out like this.
The big British heavyweight has made it clear that he won’t retire after his brutal third-round knockout loss to Zhilei Zhang on Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London. The 38-year-old Joyce is well aware that he has a long rebuilding process ahead of him, but he stated during a post-fight interview posted to Queensberry Promotions’ YouTube page that he has no intention of walking away from boxing.
London’s Joyce (15-2, 14 KOs) also acknowledged that the decision to fight Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) on April 15 wasn’t wise because he was too risky of an opponent to box when the 2016 Olympic silver medalist had already secured his spot as the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of Oleksander Usyk’s heavyweight titles.
“It was a risk too far,” Joyce said. “Maybe I could’ve gone another route, but I decided to take the challenge and paid the price. But this is not it for me. I’ve got plenty more in the tank, so you should see me again out there. So, I don’t know. I’m just gonna have to have a bit of time off, reflect and watch the fight back, and then come back new and improved.”
China’s Zhang again exploited Joyce’s defensive flaws in their second fight. The 6-foot-6, 287-pound southpaw landed numerous thudding lefts and right hooks before a perfectly executed right hook caused the first knockdown of Joyce’s pro career very late in the third round.
The 6-foot-6, 281-pound Joyce beat referee Steve Gray’s count, but Gray ruled that the courageous challenger shouldn’t continue. Zhang stopped Joyce in the sixth round of their first fight due to severe swelling surrounding Joyce’s right eye five months ago at Copper Box Arena in London.
“Well, Zhang is a great fighter and he is a great southpaw,” Joyce said. “He’s a former [Olympic] silver medalist and he’s probably avoided by most, so it was probably a bit too far of a risk because, you know, I’m not used to fighting southpaws. I hadn’t fought a southpaw for a long time. But yeah, he’s a great fighter … and he’s avoided for a reason, so it’s just, yeah, just disappointed because I got myself into the position I was and then it was obviously a risk too far and I paid the price.”
A rematch with Daniel Dubois would make sense for Joyce and London’s Dubois because both British contenders are coming off knockout losses – Joyce to Zhang and Dubois to Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ. Joyce knocked out a then-undefeated Dubois (19-2, 18 KOs) in the 10th round of their November 2020 bout at Church House in London.
Joyce replied “possibly” when asked if a second fight with Dubois could be next for him.
“I’m gonna have to, you know, talk with my team and see what’s the best route,” Joyce said. “But this is, obviously, I’m disappointed. I’ll have to reflect and watch the fight back … and see what mistakes I made. Like, yeah. But hats off to Zhang. He’s a great fighter. And I’m sure he’s gonna be in some great fights next, but I’m gonna have to rebuild and yeah, come back and go a different route.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.