Zhilei Zhang and Joe Joyce will meet in a heavyweight rematch Sept. 2 in London, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Last month, Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) exercised his contractual right to a return bout after Zhang scored a major upset in April. Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) punished Joyce, whose right eye was completely swollen shut when the fight was stopped in London on the advice of the ringside doctor in Round 6.
The 40-year-old native of China entered ESPN’s heavyweight rankings at No. 7 on the heels of the victory.
“Joyce had the right to call for the rematch in either of the next two fights but has chosen to have the fight now,” Joyce’s manager, Adam Morallee, told ESPN last month. “I think he would have won the first fight had it continued and the eye hadn’t gone.
“I think he would have swarmed him in the second half of the fight. That was always going to be a fight of two halves and unfortunately he got injured in the first half.”
Joyce, 37, was in position to face Tyson Fury this summer if he had emerged with the victory. Now, the Olympic silver medalist is looking to avenge the first defeat of his pro career.
The Londoner lost his WBO interim heavyweight title in the bout, which guaranteed Joyce a shot at unified champion Oleksandr Usyk. Joyce dropped to No. 9 in ESPN’s latest heavyweight rankings.
Joyce owns inside-the-distance victories over former heavyweight titleholder Joseph Parker and Daniel Dubois, who will challenge Usyk for the unified championship in August.
Zhang’s only pro defeat came in August when he dropped a controversial decision to Olympic bronze medalist Filip Hrgovic.
The fight will be staged by Queensberry, which promotes Fury, Joyce and Dubois along with options on Zhang for his next three bouts.
Sources — Zhilei Zhang-Joe Joyce rematch set for Sept. 2 in London