Joe Joyce suffered a second straight defeat against Zhilei Zhang on Saturday, as the Chinese heavyweight stopped the Briton once again.
Zhang, 40, dominated Joyce in April, damaging the 38-year-old’s eye to the point of shutting it down and securing a sixth-round stoppage. And when the pair returned to London on Saturday, it took Zhang just three rounds to repeat the feat at Wembley Arena.
Joyce looked hesitant throughout the first three rounds, hesitant to engage and troubled by Zhang’s exit. Then, in the final seconds of the third round, Zhang launched a left cross and landed a devastating right hook, dropping Joyce heavily.
It was the first time in the Briton’s career that he had touched the canvas, and he narrowly failed to beat the referee’s count after the bell.
With the result, Zhang retained the WBO interim title he took from Joyce in April, meaning a clash with official champion Oleksandr Usyk could be next for ‘Big Bang’.
Meanwhile, questions will arise over Joyce’s place at the top level after back-to-back stoppage defeats. At the very least, the 38-year-old faces a difficult path to a world title fight, without much time to secure one.
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