An anticipated rematch of two prominent heavyweights is now official. This, as Queensberry Promotions announced Thursday that China’s Zhilei Zhang will battle England’s Joe Joyce again, this time on September 23rd in London’s Copper Box Arena.
“HEAVYWEIGHT GIANTS Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce are all set for a highly anticipated rematch at the OVO Arena, Wembley on Saturday 23 September, live on TNT Sports.
Tickets go on general sale at midday on Friday 30 June (tomorrow) from AXS.com.
Big Bang Zhang and Juggernaut Joyce first collided in mid-April at the Copper Box Arena, where it was Zhang who left the venue in possession of the WBO Interim Heavyweight World Championship strap.
Referee Howard Foster stopped the fight in the sixth round due to the heavy swelling around the right eye of defending champion Joyce.
The Chinese hero Zhang lived up to his stage name in Stratford, ending the unbeaten professional record of the fellow Olympic silver medallist.
New York-based Zhang, 25-1-1 (20 KOs), turned in a career-best performance in London to elevate himself into challenging the elite band of heavyweights, but first he must once again repel the powerful advances of Joyce, 15-1 (14 KOs), who will be determined to regain his lost property and place himself back at the top of the WBO rankings.
“I created history last time,” said Zhang. “And I believe the best way to inherit history is to create new ones. I look at the rematch as if it was a new fight; I look at Joe Joyce as if I never fought him before. I started from zero and this is the new self.”
“I’m coming back to take back what’s mine,” declared Joyce. “September 2nd I am leaving everything in that ring. No compromises. No underestimating my opponent. Nothing, but a win.
“Last time out I lost my undefeated professional record. It was hard to take. But after the dust settled, all that will do is make me better. I’ve learned lessons. I’m ready. And I am coming for everything.”
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Title Shot Looming For The Winner?
The upset by Zhang derailed the possibility that Joyce would have potentially gotten a shot a WBC Heavyweight champ Tyson Fury for later in 2023. This is, because Joyce and Fury are both promoted by Queensberry’s Frank Warren.
However, Zhang dominated Joyce, especially after slamming his right eye shut midway through the fight. “Licking his wounds” from his first pro defeat, Joyce went ahead and activated his one-way rematch clause to try to regain his WBO interim heavyweight crown.
That rematch clause also prevented Zhang from being the potential Fury opponent for his 2023 return, as well.
The winner of Zhang-Joyce II could also become a possible opponent for unified heavyweight title holder Oleksandr Usyk. That’s provided that Usyk prevails, as he will be heavily favored to do, against England’s Daniel Dubois in their title fight in Poland in August. That will be the unbeaten former undisputed cruiserweight champ Usyk’s first bout of this calendar year.
And, despite Fury repeatedly, publicly “calling out the Ukrainian, the two have yet to agree to an undisputed title clash. Although, a Fury-Usyk matchup has been rumored to be on the table for December in Saudi Arabia.
There is no doubt that the winner of Zhang and Joyce will definitely be in those future title conversations.