Zhilei Zhang took Joe Joyce’s undefeated file, interim WBO heavyweight title and standing as one of many obligatory challengers for unified champion Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night time in London. Zhang couldn’t miss along with his left hand, ultimately forcing the ringside physician and referee to halt the combat within the sixth spherical resulting from grotesque swelling of Joyce’s proper eye.
Zhang, a +600 underdog coming into the combat, discovered early success with the straight left from his southpaw stance, touchdown a number of sharp pictures within the first spherical. By the second spherical, these left fingers have been visibly hurting Joyce, who appeared stiff and sluggish all through the bout.
Joyce is thought for his sturdiness and Zhang has pale late in fights, setting into movement an fascinating scenario the place if Joyce may proceed to outlive, he might take over the combat within the second half of the combat.
Unfortunately for Joyce, he couldn’t get away from Zhang’s left hand. Every time Joyce would start to creep again into the combat, he would get cracked with a couple of lefts or a proper hook and be compelled to again off, permitting Zhang to reset and go proper again to work.
Joyce’s eye started swelling within the third spherical and continued to balloon up as Zhang peppered him with pictures.
Before Joyce’s tempo and Zhang’s conditioning may come into play, the referee halted the motion to have the ringside doctor test Joyce’s eye. After checking on the fighter, the physician whispered into the referee’s ear and the combat was halted early within the sixth spherical.
Zhang was coming off his personal first loss, dropping a mildly-controversial resolution to Filip Hrgovic in a combat that was to find out the IBF obligatory challenger for Usyk. Getting a second likelihood at obligatory standing, Zhang got here up with an enormous win and now sits third in line — behind Daniel Dubois and Hrgovic — for a shot at Usyk’s three titles.
Another combat with Joyce probably additionally stands in Zhang’s approach of making an attempt to develop into the primary Chinese heavyweight world champion as Saturday’s bout included a rematch clause that can permit Joyce a possibility for revenge.
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