In a shocking upset, Joe Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) lost his unbeaten record to Chinese southpaw Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) by a sixth-round TKO in front of his home crowd.
Zhang was the faster and more accurate puncher from the start, landing crisp left hands that rocked Joyce in the first two rounds. Joyce tried to rally back in the third round, but he was unable to avoid Zhang’s left hand that kept finding its target.
Zhang continued to dominate the fight in the fourth and fifth rounds, working well on the inside and using his high guard to block Joyce’s punches. Joyce’s right eye started to swell badly from the repeated left hands.
The fight was stopped by referee Howard Foster at 1:23 of the sixth round after two checks from the ringside doctor. Joyce protested the stoppage, but it was clear that he was taking too much punishment.
Zhang said after the fight, “I’m very happy and proud of myself. I came here to win and I did it. I want to thank all the fans who supported me. I’m 39 years old, but age is just a number. I’m ready for a world title shot.”
Joyce said, “I’m gutted. I didn’t perform well. He kept hitting me with that [left] hand and I couldn’t see it coming. He’s a good fighter and he deserved to win. I need to go back to the drawing board and work on my defense. I’m not giving up. I’ll be back stronger.”
Heavyweights: Moses Itauma (3-0, 2 KOs), an 18-year-old prodigy from Nigeria, showed his skills and toughness by beating Kostiantyn Dovbyshchenko (9-13-1, 6 KOs) of Ukraine by a six-round unanimous decision. Itauma displayed his speed and power, but also had to overcome some adversity as Dovbyshchenko landed some hard shots of his own. The score was 60-54.
Lightweights: Sam Noakes (11-0, 11 KOs) maintained his perfect knockout record by stopping Karthik Sathish Kumar (10-1, 4 KOs) of India in the second round. Noakes dropped Kumar with a left hook in the first round and finished him off with a right uppercut in the second round. The referee stopped the fight at 1:17.