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Joe Joyce has broken his silence after suffering a surprise defeat against Chinese star Zhilei Zeng. The Brit has assured supporters that he ‘will be back’ on social media, though it is uncertain whether a rematch between the pair is on the cards at this stage.
Joyce lost his WBO heavyweight mandatory status and interim championship in devastating style when the referee intervened in the sixth round to rule that the 37-year-old could no longer see out of his left eye.
Footage showed that his eye had become incredibly swollen after Zeng landed some power-packed blows early in the bout. The defeat means that Joyce has also lost his unbeaten record as a professional fighter and thrown his world-title claims into jeopardy.
Addressing the fight on Twitter, Joyce tweeted: “Gutted, so annoying that I lost, but credit to Zhilei Zhang for giving me a good fight and getting the victory. I’ll be back.”
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Zheng’s victory against Joyce has, on the contrary, boosted his claims to fight for the world titles in the foreseeable future, with some speculating that a rematch may not be on the cards for that very reason. The 39-year-old is now in the prime position to take on Oleksandr Usyk, who is keen to return to the ring.
After the fight, Joyce assured supporters that he would reassess his options before pinpointing his next bout, whilst also mentioning that Zheng fight being cut short for an eye injury was ‘payback’ for his bout with Daniel Dubois.
In similar circumstances, Joyce fought Dubois who suffered a severe eye injury and complete closure during the bout.
Of his defeat to Zheng, Joyce said: “It was a good fight. I think I could have done better. I haven’t fought a southpaw for so long and credit to him because he’s a good fighter. I gave it my all. I think I could do better, but it’s just disappointing. I expected to win like I normally do. Thanks for all the support and congratulations.
“A little bit more practise [is needed]. Zhang is a fellow silver medallist, he’s a good fighter and hits hard. He’s an awkward style because he’s a southpaw and a powerful southpaw at that. I just couldn’t get away, I kept getting hit by his left hand. I’m disappointed. I’d like to apologise to all my fans and supporters. I’ll be back. My journey’s not over. This is just a hurdle I’ve tripped over. I’ll be back. Maybe it’s payback for Daniel Dubois’ eye? I got my eye done as well. Never mind. I’ll be back.”
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