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'The loser, it could take him a long time to get himself into position for a voluntary' - Says Frank Warren before the Joyce vs Zhang Rematch

British promoter Frank Warren has issued a warning that the loser of the upcoming heavyweight bout between Joe Joyce and Zhilei Zhang will face a substantial setback in their pursuit of a championship for at least a couple of years.

The rematch between China’s Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) and London’s Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) is scheduled to take place at OVO Arena Wembley in London. This showdown comes five months after Zhang caused an upset by defeating Joyce with a technical knockout in the sixth round of their first encounter. As a result of that loss, Joyce had to relinquish his WBO interim title, making this rematch a crucial opportunity for redemption.

Frank Warren, who heads Queensberry Promotions and supports Joyce, anticipates a challenging road ahead for the fighter who comes up short in this bout. He believes it will take a minimum of two years for the loser to work their way back into contention for a title shot. This could prove particularly daunting for both fighters, as Joyce is 38 years old, and Zhang is 40.

Warren is hopeful that the victor of the Zhang-Joyce II bout will swiftly move on to compete for a title against the winner of the undisputed heavyweight championship, featuring WBC titlist Tyson Fury, who Warren manages, and Oleksandr Usyk, the holder of the remaining three belts (WBO, WBA, and IBF). Warren acknowledges that securing an agreement between Fury and Usyk has proven elusive in the past. Fury’s next scheduled fight adds an additional layer of complexity, as he is set to face former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in a high-profile crossover event on October 28 in Saudi Arabia.

Adding to the timeline challenges is the possibility that Usyk’s next fight may entail a defense against the IBF’s top-ranked heavyweight contender, Filip Hrgovic. Usyk recently dispatched his WBO mandatory challenger, Daniel Dubois, with a late-round stoppage victory in Poland.

“After the unification, you’ve got the IBF and the WBO calling for their respective mandatories, that means the winner of this will be the WBO mandatory challenger and will get a shot next year,” Warren told SecondsOut. “The loser, it could take him a long time to get himself into position for a voluntary, because there won’t be no voluntaries, or getting himself back into the number one spot. That could take two years. So that’s why Joe has asked for it (the rematch). Joe knows what he did wrong last time. And the big question is can he correct it.”

“We’ll see, those titles are going to have to be defended, there’s no doubt about that,” Warren said. “The winner of this will fight for the WBO version.”

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