Joe Joyce frustrated by Oleksandr Usyk’s last fight

Joe Joyce will try to avenge his first pro loss when he takes on Zhilei Zhang this weekend, with hopes of clearing a path to Oleksandr Usyk.

By: Tim Bissell | 3 months ago
Joe Joyce frustrated by Oleksandr Usyk’s last fight
(230416) -- LONDON, April 16, 2023 -- Joe Joyce of Britain reacts after he was defeated by Zhang Zhilei of China in their WBO heavyweight interim title boxing match in London, Britain, April 15, 2023. ) (SP)BRITAIN-LONDON-WBO-HEAVYWEIGHT INTERIM TITLE LixYing PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxCHN

Joe Joyce hated being on the outside looking in

British heavyweight Joe Joyce was not a happy camper when he watched Oleksandr Usyk dominate Daniel Dubois and defend his WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and The Ring heavyweight titles.

The source of Joyce’s frustration was that he had been on a path to face Usyk, before his shocking loss to Zhilei Zhang in April. Seeing Dubois take his spot, a fighter he beat via 10th round TKO in 2020 was hard to take.

“It was frustrating that it was the guy I beat convincingly that got the shot before me,” said Joyce (per “And it bothers me that I was once the WBA gold [champion] and paid the sanctioning fees, and then I was completely out of that [mix]. That’s a route I could’ve taken, but I did the WBO route and I’m in that position again. But to have to lose to Zhang, when I was so close and I could’ve just waited and took a different shot, it was quite a hard time and lesson to learn.”

Joyce exercised a rematch clause to fight Zhang this Saturday. He told Boxing Scene he felt he needed to do this in order to get himself back in the mix for a potential Usyk showdown.

“I don’t really have time to piece my way back another way, so I have to. Because I could’ve had a fight in the meantime. Someone could’ve fought Zhang instead or Zhang could’ve had that opportunity at the WBO [title]. But this is why I enacted the immediate rematch [clause], so I can get back in position.”

Zhang vs. Joyce 2 is this Saturday

The rematch between Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang goes down this Saturday (September 23) at London’s OVO Wembley Arena. The event is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. ET with the main event ringwalks expected for around 4:30 p.m. ET.

Before his upset loss to Zhang, Joyce was working his way into the conversation for heavyweight boxing’s biggest fights.

The 38-year-old Olympic silver medallist had pieced together a 15-0 pro career before the Zhang loss. His most notable win was his 11th round KO over Joseph Parker in 2022. That win clinched the vacant WBO interim heavyweight title (which he then lost to Zhang).

The 40-year-old Zhang is also an Olympic silver medallist. As a pro he has a 25-1-1 career, the only blemish being a unanimous decision loss to Filip Hrgovic in 2022.

Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce press conference video.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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