JOE JOYCE’S top-level career was ended by a sensational right hook from 21st Chinese monster Zhilei Zhang.
The Juggernaut celebrated his 38th birthday on Tuesday and only wanted rematch revenge over the man who battered his eye shut in April for a gift.
Zhilei Zhang defeated Joe Joyce in their rematch by KORichard Pelham / The Sun
Ref Steve Gray counts Joyce out after Zhang’s brutal punchRichard Pelham / The Sun
PAJoyce is given oxygen as he recovered from Zhang’s knockout punch[/caption]
But it was an even more brutal end to the bout – and Joyce’s dreams of ever fulfilling his early potential to be a heavyweight world champion – when gun-loving Zhang destroyed his chin with a surprise right hook.
The opener was a stinker with only one real punch thrown, a left from southpaw Zhang that Joyce caught and parried away.
It was a massive relief to the packed Wembley arena supporting the Putney man as every dig Zhang threw five months earlier landed and damaged our man’s eye.
The second round livened up as soon as Zhang landed a crisp one-two and his few Chinese fans started drowning out the Brits.
Then things really went downhill as a left hand from the ruthless leftie shook Joyce’s skull and made his legs go wobble.
A right hook did further damage to Joyce’s plans and confidence as a dark feeling of deja vu sank in.
The only real shock came from the shot that ended the fight in such sensational fashion.
The rifle-like lefts that ruined Joyce’s eye and cracked his septum five months ago were tucked away in the Zhang family gun cabinet.
Zhang dominated the fight from start to finishRichard Pelham / The Sun
Joyce had no answer to Zhang’s powerRichard Pelham / The Sun
And instead a right hook lashed around Joyce’s guard and folded him into the canvas.
He bravely, almost super-humanly, tried to beat the count.
But expert referee Steve Gray rightly waved it off before he could take any more beatings from his Beijing boogieman.
Joyce might decide to rebuild his career with a rematch with fellow Londoner Daniel Dubois, who he beat in 2020 in a brilliant bout.
Or he could retire from the harsh bleeding business that robbed him of Olympic gold in 2016 and return to his first love.
Joyce is a fine art graduate and talented painter but it feels like a world title masterpiece may now always evade him.
A return to the easel might be a better way for the polite powerhouse to make a living after such a painful year.
Zhang celebrates a famous victory over JoyceRichard Pelham / The Sun