Usyk: If Joyce Doesn’t Change Anything In His Style, Result Will Be Same In Zhang Rematch

Boxing Scene

Oleksandr Usyk doesn’t really care who wins the Zhilei Zhang-Joe Joyce rematch next month, even though he might eventually defend his heavyweight titles against whoever emerges victorious.

Based on what Usyk witnessed April 15, though, Joyce had better make adjustments, particularly defensively, if he expects to defeat the huge Chinese southpaw in their second showdown September 23 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.

Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) upset the previously unbeaten Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) by sixth-round technical knockout four months ago because Zhang repeatedly landed left hands that caused serious damage around Joyce’s right eye. A ringside physician for the British Boxing Board of Control suggested to referee Howard Foster that Joyce shouldn’t continue and their 12-round fight was halted at 1:23 of the sixth round.

Ukraine’s Usyk discussed the Zhang-Joyce rematch during an interview with Queensberry Promotions’ Dev Sahni, which was released recently on the YouTube channel of Frank Warren’s promotional company.

“If Joe Joyce doesn’t change anything in his style,” Usyk said, “the result will be the same in the rematch.”

Usyk wasn’t surprised by the outcome of their first fight, even though most oddsmakers listed Joyce as a 9-1 favorite entering what was an optional defense of his WBO interim championship at Copper Box Arena in London.

“Probably from the second round,” Usyk said, “I already realized that Joe does not feel very comfortable and cannot adjust himself to fight with Zhilei Zhang.”

Joyce was the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of Usyk’s titles before Zhang beat him. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist had an immediate rematch clause in his contract that he exercised.

The 36-year-old Usyk thinks Joyce “probably” could win their rematch.

“Let them fight and see who’s the winner,” Usyk said. “I don’t care about that.”

Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) obviously is more focused on defeating an opponent Joyce already knocked out. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion will defend his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight crowns against England’s Daniel Dubois on Saturday night at Tarczynski Arena Wroclaw, a soccer stadium in Wroclaw, Poland.

London’s Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs), whom Joyce beat into submission during the 10th round of their November 2020 bout in London, is the WBA’s mandatory challenger for another of Usyk’s championships. Handicappers have made Usyk at least a 10-1 favorite to win a 12-round fight that’ll headline a TNT Sports Box Office pay-per-view show in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£19.95; 6 p.m. BST) and an ESPN+ stream in the United States (2 p.m. EDT; 11 a.m. PDT).

TNT Sports will also broadcast the Zhang-Joyce rematch in the United Kingdom and Ireland. ESPN+ will stream it in the United States as well.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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