THE manner of Joe Joyce’s second defeat to Zhilei Zhang last September was enough to have many asking whether the British heavyweight should retire from boxing or not.
His seemingly relentless charge to a shot at one of the four world heavyweight belts was halted by Zhang via sixth-round stoppage and then, in the rematch, by third-round knockout. Zhang’s reward, ironically, is a fight against Joseph Parker, who lost to Joyce heavily in 2022.
Referring to the popular kid’s game Snakes and Ladders, Joyce told Boxing News that he has fallen down a couple of snakes and needs to climb a ladder once again. But one of his greatest strengths, the Joe Joyce chin, was exposed by Zhang in their rematch. Does he now have doubts about his Get out of jail free card?
“No, because I’m not just a walking chin, a heavy bag,” Joyce responded. “I can actually punch, I can counter, I’ve got good timing, good footwork and I’m aiming to improve. But I came up against a hard test; a bogeyman or a tough style for me to deal with. I paid the price. I’m gonna come again. There’s plenty of fights still out there for me.”
Facing Kash Ali on March 16 will tell us very little about Joyce’s recovery. But it’s what follows the Ali fight that will shine a brighter light on both what Joyce has left and where he fits in the heavyweight pack.
“There’s heavyweight showdowns taking place in Saudi so there’s plenty opportunities there [and] even here,” the 38-year-old said.
“Joseph Parker and Dubois won (and that’s) definitely raised my stock. Two guys I’ve beat and they’ve had really good wins. It just shows styles make fights. Zhang, obviously, wasn’t a good style for me. He’s a good fighter and he’s fighting Joseph Parker who I’ve knocked out.
“It’s interesting how boxing works. There’s stories behind all these fights. I haven’t had enough yet; I haven’t had my fill yet. I haven’t done what I came into the sport to do and that’s be a world champion – which I’m still gunning for. There’s such a unique opportunity which has arisen in Saudi. There’s still plenty more fights I can have and I’m not done yet.”