Zhilei Zhang and Mikaela Mayer Nab Interim Titles; Sam Noakes Gets Stoppage
In a major upset in the heavyweight division, Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 15KO) scored a sixth-round stoppage over WBO Interim titlist Joe Joyce (15-0, 14KO). The story of the fight was about Joyce’s chin standing up to the hard shots from Zhang. His chin held up fine, but the right eye didn’t. Nicknamed the Big Bang, Zhang couldn’t miss with the straight left hand, taking advantage of Joyce’s lack of head movement. Instantly, Joyce’s face was showing the results of eating left hands like candy as his nose was busted open early.
As the fight continued, Zhang’s punch output slowed down, but remained successful as he targeted the right eye like a sniper. Joyce tried to fight back by getting in close but was getting caught by uppercuts. In round six, the ringside doctor inspected Joyce. Despite having Joyce answer his questions, the doctor consulted with the referee, who waved off the fight. With this victory, Zhilei Zhang has gotten the stigma off his back of fading in big fights and showed up to not only claim his biggest win, but is now the mandatory challenger for unified champion Oleksandr Usyk.
MIKAELA MAYER PICKS UP THE WIN OVER REPLACEMENT LUCY WILDHEART
In her lightweight debut, Mikaela Mayer (18-1, 5KO) picked up the unanimous decision victory over replacement Lucy Wildheart (10-2, 4KO). Mayer did a good job establishing the jab early in the fight. The former unified champion fought in control at mid-range by landing her patient jab and straight right hand combinations. However, Wildheart came roaring back by closing the gap and landing the right hand. Moreover, she had moments with landing punches after forcing Mayer to fight off the back foot.
In the middle rounds, Mayer focused on delivering a body attack while coming forward. Wildheart began to land counter-right hands, taking advantage of Mayer’s head staying on the centerline. Down the stretch, Wildheart, after suffering a busted nose, ignored the blood and pushed forward until the final bell. Mayer continued the body attack and landed crisp compact uppercuts.
The judges saw it 100-90, 98-92, and 98-91 in favor of Mayer, who now owns the WBC Interim lightweight title. 3Kings Boxing agrees with the middle card. In the post-fight interview, the former unified champion called for a fight with undisputed champion Katie Taylor.
SAM NOAKES OVERPOWERS KARTHIK KUMAR
In a lightweight battle of undefeated prospects, Sam Noakes (11-0, 11KO) bulldozed over challenger Karthik Kumar (10-1, 4KO). Amateur standout Noakes’ power became the story early in the contest. Kumar was like a deer in headlights from the moment he was hit by the first semi-hard shot. Noakes stalked his opponent by coming forward behind a power jab and started finding a home for the straight right hand on both the body and head.
After the knockdown in the first round, Kumar tasted the canvas again from an overhand right in the second round. The referee had seen enough and called a halt to the contest. Noakes keeps his perfect record and knockout streak intact, and retains the Commonwealth and WBC International Silver titles. It’s time for Team Noakes to step up the level of competition if they want to make a splash in one of the most stacked divisions in boxing.