Joe Joyce faces painful repeat if he goes into Zhilei Zhang rematch with same disastrous strategy

IF Joe Joyce has been unable to work out a new strategy in the last five months, there’s every chance he  finds history painfully repeating itself tomorrow night.

In April, the Juggernaut disastrously appeared to have just a single game plan when he fought Zhilei Zhang.

Joe Joyce must change his tactics or else risk another defeat to Zhilei ZhangRex

Joyce knows he must win the rematch to revive his world heavyweight title dreamRex

That seemed to be to keep crashing head-on with the Chinese giant’s accurate, powerful southpaw left hand.

Zhang simply couldn’t miss him and the inevitable result was that Joyce experienced a shock six-round defeat.

It meant Joyce not only lost his coveted unbeaten record but also any ambitions he had to challenge Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk for their world heavyweight titles lay in tatters.

He certainly made it easy for Zhang, who couldn’t believe his luck as Joyce never once deviated from plodding forward in a straight line without moving his head and just soaking up the non-stop punishment.

Confucius said 2,500 years ago: “Success depends upon previous preparation and without such preparation there is sure to be a failure.”

I’m not sure whether Zhang is aware of those wise words that came from the lips of China’s paragon of sages.

But I’m sure he did his homework and spent several hours watching tapes of Joyce’s fights.

And it certainly wouldn’t have taken him long to realise — the Putney arts graduate has had only 16 fights in a six-year pro career — is really a one-trick pony.


Joyce put his disappointing performance down to a bad night at the office and he immediately invoked  the return fight clause.

He  hopes to redeem himself in the eyes of his fans and put himself firmly back into world title contention when he goes back to face Zhang for a second time at Wembley’s OVO Arena.

It’s a pity Joyce is so predictable because he has everything else a world champion needs.

He’s a dedicated, super-fit athlete, never gives less than value-for-money, has a KO left hook, a big heart and a chin made out of the kind of concrete that every school should be built with. 

Let’s hope he gets inspiration from Lennox Lewis and Anthony Joshua, who both bounced back from  surprise losses.

 Lewis got immediate revenge over Hasim Rahman while Joshua did the same against Andy Ruiz Jr.

But there have been calamitous attempts at reparations in the heavyweight division.

The most catastrophic was Floyd Patterson’s endeavour to get his world title back from Sonny Liston  60 years ago.

Patterson lasted only 2min 6sec of the first round in their first fight and just four seconds longer in the return.  

  Joyce turned 38 on Tuesday and it will be a mini-miracle if he can change the habit of a lifetime when the first bell sounds.

 I fear there will be no re-Joyceing as I expect a repeat Zhang victory — this time on points.

And if that’s the case, Joyce should hang up the gloves and find work on a less dangerous canvas by taking out the brushes and paint portraits for a living. 

But one thing’s for sure, whatever happens, you won’t see Joyce being counted out on one knee after going down from a jab like ‘Dangerous’ Dan Dubois did against Ukrainian champion Usyk in Poland last month.

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