Joe Joyce suffered a pretty gruesome eye injury earlier tonight (Sat., April 15, 2023) live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside Copper Box Arena in London, England, losing his WBO interim heavyweight title to Chinese contender Zhilei Zhang in the process. It is Joyce’s first professional loss after turning pro back in 2017.
As promised, the two heavyweights went toe-to-toe from the opening bell. Joyce is the more dangerous boxer on paper — which is why he was a -900 betting favorite entering this fight — but Zhang came to compete and found a home for heavy shots early. Joyce regrouped to make the main event a true banger, but the damage to his eye started to mount.
About midway through the sixth round the referee stopped the action to have the ringside doctor take a look at Joyce. The interim heavyweight champion was clearly compromised despite his unwavering toughness. Doctors checked the eye thoroughly and decided to call the fight.
As a result, Zhang now becomes the WBO interim heavyweight champion. He is also the WBO mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s WBA, IBF & WBO heavyweight world titles.
Check out the full fight video highlights below courtesy of Top Rank Boxing and ESPN:
Joyce gets a taste of Zhang's power early #JoyceZhang | LIVE on @ESPNPlus pic.twitter.com/TAHVF5VaKe— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 15, 2023
Delivering like they said it would #JoyceZhang pic.twitter.com/aacdRnxSMr— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 15, 2023
AND THAT'S IT— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 15, 2023
Zhang upsets @JoeJoyceBoxing with the R6 doctor stoppage. pic.twitter.com/yJeKRkY9lM