Zhilei Zhang‘s first fight with Joe Joyce threw up a surprise, as the underdog Zhang scored an upset victory on his opponent’s turf. Landing punch after punch to Joyce’s right eye, he forced a doctor’s stoppage on damage in the sixth round. Tonight he returns to England seeking to cement that victory, whereas Joyce will be hoping to stay in the fight long enough to let his relentless volume take over in the later stages.
The card will also see the return of Anthony Yarde for the first time since his loss to Artur Beterbiev earlier in the year, as well as rising stars like Moses Itauma and Pierce O’Leary.
The card will start at 2pm ET (7pm British time), with ringwalks for the main event expected around 5.30pm ET (10.30pm British time). It will air in the US on ESPN+ and in the UK on TNT Sports 2 (formerly BT Sports). As of this morning it looks like ESPN+ will be picking it up from 5pmET, so potentially only the main and maybe co-main event.
As always, stay tuned here for any updates on that main event time throughout the night, and keep your eyes peeled for a potential prelim stream on youtube if that happens, as those are sometimes announced rather late in the day.
Update: A few minutes late, but the main event will be next, in just a few minutes. Join me for the play-by-play below.
Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce 2 play-by-play
Round 1: The referee makes shots on the shorts are a low-blow, the Usyk-Dubois controversy clearly still ringing in his ears. The fight itself starts with pawing jabs, Joe Joyce circling away from Zhang’s left hand. Zhang tests with that left hand early, but carefully. Joe Joyce isn’t just moving away from that left, he’s very clearly leaning away to roll with it if it lands. Very, very cautious of it, but he has to be careful not to move himself onto other punches. Tentative round from both. Maybe 10-9 Zhilei Zhang for the odd shot landed, but very little happened.
Round 2: Zhilei Zhang lands a solid jab early in the round, then a bodyshot a bit later on. Single punches strictly from both. Both very much pawing at each other’s jabs in this open-stance matchup. Bit lefft hand lands on Joe Joyce and rocks him back! Recovers quickly but Zhang will be happy to see that. Joyce fights back and throws a combination. Joyce’s response has been to up the pace, which he has to be careful with. Another left lands and Joe Joyce is on the back foot again. Clear Zhilei Zhang round. 10-9 Zhang, 20-18
Round 3: What might be worse for Joyce than the damage is just how worried he looked in the corner. Bodylanguage is always a dangerous thing to try to read but he did not look confident at all. He comes out aggressively though, pushing at Zhilei Zhang and landing a bodyshot under the lead hand.
It’s a fine line he has to walk- staying careful enough to avoid the damage but he has to make Zhang work, because if he wins this it’ll be in the second half. Gets caught again as they exchange. Another big left lands and then bodyshots. He hasn’t covered up the gaps at all in training, all the straight lefts are landing again. He’s taking the sting off a little bit more, but this is a risky, risky game to play. And Zhang drops him! And it’s waved off! He didn’t beat the bell! Crushing loss for Joe Joyce, delight for Zhilei Zhang.
It was a fantastic finish to be fair, a left hand to set it up then a cracking right hand to send Joe Joyce down. That would have knocked out anyone.
Zhilei Zhang wins, TKO-3
Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce 2: Results and highlights
Heavyweight: Zhilei Zhang vs. Joe Joyce
Light-heavyweight: Anthony Yarde TKO-2 Jorge Silva
- Yarde made short work of his late-replacement opponent. Original opponent Ricky Summers would have been a pretty decent comeback fight, but he had to pull out so 40-year-old Silva stepped in.
- After a tentative first round, he found his opponent with two chopping right hands that sent him down, and that was that.
Heavyweight: Moses Itauma TKO-1 Amine Boucetta
- The 18-year-old Itauma is highly rated, and he made short work of his journeyman opponent here.
- He dropped him with a sharp uppercut after about a minute, and though Boucetta was able to continue he could do nothing to stop the barrage of punches Itauma unloaded, leading the referee to stop the contest.
Super-lightweight: Pierce O’Leary UD-10 Kane Gardner 100-90, 99-92, 99-92
- An evenly matched fight on paper saw the 23-year-old Irish prospect take on the more experienced 28-year-old Gardner.
- It started quite one-sided in the first half of the fight, with Gardner unable to keep the range he needed to get to work, consistently pressed to the ropes by O’Leary.
- Gardner then made an adjustment, opting to hold his feet more and bring the fight to his opponent, and finding success that way in the fifth. A cut on O’Leary also gave Gardner something to aim at.
- However he got himself in trouble again in the sixth, looking good until he briefly stepped back to distance and got himself clipped on the temple with a hurtful shot while moving.
- He kept himself in it and fought well till the end, but the result was ultimately never in doubt. A good performance with some learning moments for the younger man.
Super middleweight: Zach Parker RTD-7 Khalid Graidia
- The 29 year old Parker returned after 11 months out, following an injury sustained in his interim world title fight with John Ryder last year
- A career super-middleweight, this was fought at a catchweight and he’s spoken about fighting Anthony Yarde if he feels comfortable here.
- A dominant performance against Graidia, forcing a stoppage against an opponent who has gone the distance with some good-level opponents in recent times.
- Graidia’s corner pulled him out after the seventh round, after taking a lot of damage including what looked like a broken nose.
Super-featherweight: Royston Barney-Smith UD 6 Engel Gomez 60-52 (ref’s scorecard)
- He didn’t find the knockout, but some nice skills flashed by 19-year-old Barney-Smith, who moves to 7-0
- Two knockdowns punctuated a patient and accurate counterpunching performance.
Light heavyweight: Ezra Taylor TKO-8 Joel McIntyre
Cruiserweight: Tommy Fletcher TKO-4 Alberto Tapia
Welterweight: Sean Noakes UD6 Lukasz Barabasz
Cruiswerweight: Aloys Youmbi vs Erik Nazaryan
Join us on Substack!
You know you can count on us for quick, consistent quality MMA coverage. Bloody Elbow is an independent, reader supported publication. Please subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our best work and learn how you can support the site.
About the author