Zhang Upsets the Juggernaut at the Copperbox (Live Report)

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 Off the Hook’s own Iain Dolan reports from ringside

A big upset amongst the big men saw China’s Zhilei Zhang halt the Juggernaut Joe Joyce when many had felt that was an impossible task. A much leaner Joe Joyce still looked slow and ponderous (no cause for alarm as that’s just Joyce’s MO and it hadn’t hampered his career thus far) but he inexplicably started the fight circling towards Zhang’s much vaunted left hand. Joyce would proceed to eat that left hand pretty much any time Zhang chose to throw it and Joyce’s knees dipped for the first time I can remember when a particularly solid shot landed in the 2nd round.

Joyce did have moments of success and possibly landed more punches, but the cleaner and heavier shots were invariably coming from Zhang. Zhang was winning the fight, but most at ringside still felt that Joyce would wear him down and get to him late. But Joyce’s right eye was starting to close up. Joyce fought with more urgency but continued to ship left hands making his eye even worse and referee Howard Foster, on the advice of the ringside doctor, stopped the fight in the 6th round. Joyce will need to get back on the horse as soon as his eye has healed but whoever he fights, he’s going to have to pay a bit more attention to defence as having a titanium chin is no use if you can’t see!

Mikaela Meyer got back to winning ways with a comfortable 10 round decision victory over late sub Lucy Wildheart. Bossing the action throughout, Meyer earned cards of 100-90, 98-91 and 98-91 and will now look to get back in the ring with the division’s big names.

There were plenty of fireworks lower down the card but also a bit of a surprise that heavyweight prospect Moses Itauma went the distance for the first time. Itauma didn’t seem to do much wrong as he went to head and body, but he barely managed to dent Kostiyantin Dovbyshenko. Dovbyshenko has never been stopped in 12 heavyweight losses so is obviously made of strong stuff but Itauma is going to have to develop ways to land more combinations if he wants to be getting the stoppage in fights like these. It was excellent match making though as Itauma will have learned far more from this than from another first round blowout.

Speaking of blowouts, Sam Noakes made light work of Karthick Satish Kumar at welterweight. Kumar’s defence was almost non existent and Noakes snapped his head back repeatedly with a  variety of punches. Kumar showed heart to come out for the 2nd round but it was only another minute of Noakes teeing off before the ref had seen enough and called a halt.

Denzel Bentley put the middleweight division on notice with a  spectacular 45 second destruction of Kieran Smith who was challenging for Bentley’s British title. Smith is no mug and a worthy challenger, but Bentley clipped him with a left hook and followed up with a thunderous right hand that sent Smith crashing to the canvas. No count required as Smith was out. Bentley vs Hamza Sheeraz makes a lot of sense now and would be a fascinating match up. Yes please Frank!

It was a good night at the Copperbox which was sold out or close to. Upsets, spectacular knock outs and done and dusted by a few mins past 11pm. The atmosphere was lively but never hostile and although Joyce losing will have spoiled the night for some, I think the crowd went home happy with their lot.

A quick pint in the Camden Eye before heading to the Copperbox (Camden Road to Hackney Wick is about 15 mins). A good selection of craft beers ,including one 7.5% loony juice (not the actual name but might as well be) from Beavertown that I decided to swerve opting for Brixton Brewery’s “low voltage” instead. It’s a nice pub, full of young trendies, it being Camden but they do play quite a lot of old people music so I was right at home. Recommended.

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