“It was a lesson” – Joe Joyce is learning from costly errors which caused defeat to Zhang | Boxing News


IN the sweltering Las Vegas heat Joe Joyce is hard at work trying to correct the mistakes which dealt a huge blow to his world heavyweight title ambitions.

‘The Juggernaut’ had proven himself to be a force of nature prior to his fight against Zhilei Zhang in April. Wins against Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker displayed what made Joyce so dangerous. Against Zhang he ran into a great wall from China who caused enough damage to win by sixth round stoppage. A ringside examination of Joyce’s right eye from the on-site Doctor led to the fight being called off. The Joe Joyce runaway train had come off the tracks.

Boxing News interviewed both Joyce and his trainer Ismael Salas to discuss what went wrong against Zhang and why this time the result will be different.

“Things are going well,” Joyce said.

“I’ve been putting everything into place and making sure everything’s streamlined and better than the last camp. Making sure I’ve got everything right so I can get the win and continue the journey.”

The last camp. Some signs point to not all being how it should have been during preparations for the first fight. For example, Joyce weighed in at 256lbs for the Zhang fight and the last time he nearly reached that number was four years ago against Daniel Dubois. Joyce won that night but did so against a far more inexperienced opponent who couldn’t cope with the Juggernaut jab.

In the next three fights against Takam, Parker, and Christian Hammer the average weight for Joyce was 266lbs. Each were beaten by the power, the chin, and the durability of Joyce, not by the sweet science.

“There was something in my diet that wasn’t great for me and that’s been taken care of,” Joyce said while discussing his lighter frame last time around.

“I’ll be back on my normal weight and be practiced and ready for this fight. I’m not no mug. I need to beat his ass and go on from there.”

Another observation which puzzled many was Joyce’s inability to struggle with the Zhang’s southpaw style. Having been all around the world during a lengthy amateur career Joyce would have been faced with many lefties. One of the most famous occasions was when he fought Oleksandr Usyk in their memorable battle 10 years ago during a World Series of Boxing fixture at York Hall between the Ukraine Otamans and the British Lionhearts.

“There’s more practice and tactics that need to go in for the next one,” Joyce said.

“Zhang’s a smart guy. He’s very experienced and he’s been a southpaw for a long time, so he’s faced a lot of orthodox fighters including Filip Hrgovic which was a close decision.”

As Joyce continued during his chat with BN it became apparent that all was not right behind the scenes.

“There’s a couple of things in the build-up to the camp on my behalf, the team’s behalf, things like that which I won’t go into. A lot of things were being overlooked. There’s little bits and pieces that needed to be better. This camp is about correcting and make sure everything’s streamlined and I know what I’m doing so I can put on a performance and get the win this time around.

“There’s a lot of talk about me having a granite chin and maybe I got a bit complacent in training which was probably something that needed to happen. It was like a lesson and something I need to get right this time.”

Salas described the defeat for Joyce as a ‘wake-up call’ and told BN that the heavyweight’s defensive abilities must be better.

“We need to increase or improve, let’s say improve the defensive skill,” he said. “That’s why we are working on it. How we will do I don’t need to tell anyone, but we try to do better. They have three kinds of weapons. With the feet, with the arm, with the body. So, we’re working on that direction. We need to find out what is the best way to approach Zhilei Zhang. This is the main target.”



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