Joe Joyce suffered a second straight loss to 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 closure and sealing a sixth-round stoppage. And when the pair returned to London on Saturday, it took Zhang just three rounds to repeat the trick at Wembley Arena.
Joyce looked tentative throughout the first three rounds, hesitant to engage and troubled by Zhang’s output. Then, in the final seconds of Round 3, Zhang threw 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 hit the canvas, and he narrowly failed to beat the referee’s count after the bell sounded.
With the result, Zhang retained the WBO interim title that he took from Joyce in April, meaning a clash with official champion Oleksandr Usyk may be next for “Big Bang”.
Meanwhile, there will be questions over Joyce’s place at the top level after back-to-back stoppage losses. At the very least, the 38-year-old faces a tough route back towards a world-title fight, without much time to secure one.
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