In an astounding twist that captured the world's attention, Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO) claimed a surprising victory against Joe Joyce (15-1-0, 14 KO) in the fourth month of this year. This unpredictable outcome defied expectations of boxing experts and bettors alike, who had previously placed their faith in Joyce's unbeaten record and his status as the WBO interim heavyweight champion.
Joyce Stunned as Zhang Emerges Victorious
Prior to the match, Joyce, the undefeated boxer, anticipated Zhang to merely serve as a "warm-up" fight in preparation for bouts against some of the boxing world's best, including Fury, Usyk, Joshua, and Wilder.
The same assumption was mirrored by bookmakers, who favored Joyce in their odds. Entering the ring after a narrow defeat against Filip Hrgovic, Zhang, a 40-year-old Chinese boxer, was generally considered past his prime. Yet, Zhang travelled to England with a different narrative in mind, one that would defy his doubters.
He completely outclassed Joyce, who found himself without a counter to Zhang's left-handed strikes. The decisive moment arrived in the sixth round when Zhang successfully shut down Joyce, literally closing his eye. Zhang's unexpected victory catapulted him to the interim WBO champion title in the heavyweight category.
The triumphant moment also opened the possibility of a face-off against the WBC champion, Tyson Fury. Fury, the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King", appeared intrigued by a showdown with Zhang.
The Imminent Rematch: Zhang vs Joyce Round Two
However, Joyce quickly intervened by invoking a clause that permitted him an immediate rematch.
Through a post on his Instagram account, Joyce expressed his determination to reclaim his title: "I’m coming back to take back what’s mine. September 23rd I am leaving everything in that ring. No compromises. No underestimating my opponent.
Nothing, but a win... I’m ready. And I am coming for everything. Zhang next and then the world title shot. The Juggernaut is coming!"
Recently, it was announced that the highly anticipated rematch will occur on September 23, with London as the venue.
Bookmakers have already released the first odds for the upcoming match, and the tables have notably turned. Joyce's odds to win fluctuate between 2.00 to 2.40, while Zhang is now the favorite with odds varying from 1.55 to 1.70.
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