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BOXING

Joe Joyce “definitely getting the title back”

The Brit confident he will reclaim the WBO heavyweight title after the shock loss to Zhilei Zhang, promising a war in London’s Wembley Arena on Saturday.

Joe Joyce.
ESPN

Joe Joyce (15-1-0, 14 KO) suffered his first professional loss in March when Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KO) stunned the world by stopping the WBO interim heavyweight champion. Joyce lost the 0 by his name and his status as mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk. Additionally, an in-the-works deal for a Tyson Fury match evaporated. Joyce is looking to set all that right.

On Saturday, he will have the opportunity to take revenge and regain his title. Now as the challenger, Joyce will face Zhang again in London’s Wembley Arena in a heavyweight fight that is not to be missed.

Injury to Joyce’s right eye ended his first title defense as Zhang severely punished the Briton, leaving his eye closed and forcing the referee to call a halt to proceedings in the sixth round. The Chinese heavyweight set the pace of the fight from the opening bell and dominated without much difficulty.

Joyce, like Zhang, had a brilliant amateur career, winning the silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He also won silver at the 2015 European Games and a bronze at both the 2015 World Cup and 2013 European Championship. Making the leap to professional in 2017, Joyce shone and knocked out nine in a row at heavyweight. Before Zhang, only opponent to take him the distance was Bryant Jennings (24-4-0, 14 KO), a fight that Joyce won by unanimous decision. More knockouts followed... until Zhilei Zhang crossed his path.

On Saturday, again in front of a home crowd, Joyce will have the opportunity to put the world to rights, regaining his interim WBO belt as well as his status as Usyk’s mandatory challenger. Assuming that the dealings with Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KO) are dead in the water, the next opponent for Usyk is likely to be the winner of this fight. Joyce aims to show the world that he deserves the opportunity to walk among the greatest fighters in the world.

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