Joe Joyce suffered a shock upset defeat on Saturday night as he was stopped by China’s Zhilei Zhang due to a gruesome eye injury.
The loss means that Joyce no longer holds the WBO ‘interim’ belt and so a world title shot against unified heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk may have slipped away.
The bout got off to a quick start, with Zhang landing a few bombs in the opening round, but as is often the case due to Joyce’s iron chin, he was relatively unfazed.
With that being said, in round two Zhang pulled off the seemingly impossible by actually rocking Joyce and almost putting him down, but somehow the Brit stayed on his feet and made it to the end of the round, although his face was becoming increasingly marked up.
Zhang’s success continued in the third and fourth, as he could not miss with his straight left from the southpaw stance and Joyce appeared to be letting the fight get away from him.
The Brit came out far more aggressively in the fifth and enjoyed his best round of the fight, although by this point his right eye had almost entirely closed up, with the doctor having to take a look, but the bout was allowed to continue.
This did not last long, however, as midway through round six, Zhang unleashed a barrage of punches and Joyce was taken over to the doctor once again, who after consultation with the referee, called the fight to a halt to hand.
This was the first loss of the Brit’s career, but his promoter, George Warren, revealed that he does have a rematch clause with Zhang and so he could go back for revenge.
Joyce vs Zhang LIVE RESULTS: ‘Big Bang’ stuns heavyweight division by stopping Juggernaut
Dillian Whyte slams Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, calls out Joe Joyce
Denzel Bentley delivers brutal 45-second KO that leaves opponent unconscious
Darren Till reveals which British boxing legend he wants to fight for his debut
Joe Joyce was once KOd in 34 seconds as an amateur and Anthony Joshua stopped him
VADA announce drugs test results for Anthony Joshua and Jermaine Franklin
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Gareth A Davies after the fight, Joyce said: “I’ll be back, I’ll be reviewing my loss and seeing where I can make the improvements.
“Massively disappointing. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way. He just kept on getting my eye.
“I’m fine but it’s closed up, I can’t see out of it now.
“I haven’t fought a southpaw for a long time. I thought I could’ve carried on. It’s just unfortunate that the eye closed up.
“It’s an eye for an eye in this game.”