Sources: Joyce, Zhang close on April 15 fight


Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang are closing in on a deal for a fight on April 15 in London, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The heavyweight bout will be televised on BT Sport in the United Kingdom rather than PPV, sources said.

Joyce, ESPN’s No. 6 heavyweight, scored a career-best win in September with an 11th-round KO of former champion Joseph Parker. The victory was Joyce’s fifth consecutive stoppage win. The streak also includes inside-the-distance triumphs over Daniel Dubois and Carlos Takam.

The 37-year-old Londoner, who won an Olympic silver medal in 2016, is one of the largest heavyweights in the division at 6-foot-6, 270-plus pounds. But this time, Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) will meet someone who is the same size.

Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs) is also 6-6 and weighed 277 pounds for his August fight vs. Filip Hrgovic. He dropped a tight, unanimous decision, but it was a career-best performance for the 39-year-old from China.

Hgrovic won bronze at those same Olympic Games in ’16 and was a 10-1 favorite to defeat Zhang.

Now, Zhang takes on a second tough task in Joyce, who will also be heavily favored to remain undefeated.

BoxingScene first reported the news of the fight.

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