Joe Joyce suffered a gruesome eye injury after falling to a shock defeat against Chinese boxer Zhilei Zhang. The fight was stopped in round six with the damage to the Brit’s eye too severe for the fight to continue.
Joyce’s eye had started to swell up during the first round after brutal hits from Zhang as he struggled to deal with the southpaw. By the sixth round, there was too much swelling for the fight to continue with referee Howard Foster calling the fight after a doctor had taken a look at the damage with the result a huge upset.
After the fight, Joyce admitted he was disappointed by how the it had gone but was keen to praise Zhang for his performance.
“I’m just disappointed with my performance,” he told BT Sport. “The right hand he kept hitting me with I couldn’t get out of that way so respect to Zhang, Big Bang.
“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. Zhang is a fellow silver medallist, he’s 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 Dubois’ eye? I got my eye done as well. Never mind. I’ll be back.”
Zhang was understandably in a triumphant mood after the bell after becoming the first man to stop Joyce mid-bout. The 39-year-old has now set his sights on a title bout following a big day for Chinese boxing.
“Today is mine!” he exclaimed after the fight. “Today belongs to me, belongs to everyone who showed up, belongs to every Chinese who showed up.
“I’m 39 years old, but I’m disciplined, I train hard and next step I go for the title.”
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