Martin Bakole says he would stop Zhilei Zhang after Joe Joyce made ‘big mistake’ | BoxingNews

Martin Bakole believes Joe Joyce made a “big mistake” in his shock defeat against Zhilei Zhang, and says he would have no concerns about an explosive encounter with the big-hitting Chinese heavyweight.

The 29-year-old returns to the ring in Poland this Saturday for the first time since beating Tony Yoka in May 2022 as he takes on Ihor ‘Hulk’ Shevadzutskyi in what he hopes will serve as the latest stepping stone towards a meeting with one of the division’s chief names.

Bakole has made a little secret in recent months of his desire to take on WBA regular champion Daniel Dubois as the current No 2 in the rankings, though now insists he would have no hesitation about stepping in the ring with Zhang.

Zhilei Zhang stopped Joe Joyce in a huge upset
Zhilei Zhang stopped Joe Joyce in a huge upset win

“100 per cent,” he told Sky Sports. “I would say yes without even thinking.

“That was amazing,” he added of Zhang’s win over Joyce. “People enjoyed that even though they might have been disappointed to see Joe Joyce stopped. People did not expect that but it’s boxing, it happened.

“You can make a mistake and Joe Joyce made a big mistake of standing before big Zhang – and I think they maybe didn’t take it serious. He gets what he gets.”

Bakole, who claims he previously stopped both Dubois and Oleksandr Usyk in sparring sessions, added that he would avoid running into the same problems against the southpaw as experienced by Joyce at the Copper Box.

He said: “I’ve never sparred or met him in the past but all I know is I learned to box from my brother (Ilunga Makabu) who is a southpaw, Usyk knows what I’m talking about here, they’re not hard to work out or stop, I’ll stop the guy. I’ll give him a hard time.”

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Frazer Clarke discusses Joy Joyce’s loss to Zhilei Zhang and his fight with Fabio Wardley.

While Joyce may have been a coveted opponent in the past, Bakole says he is now looking beyond the Olympic silver medalist.

“Not now,” he said, when asked about the prospect of facing Joyce. “I’d have to lose the fight (on Saturday). I mentioned his name from him a couple of times and he never came back to say yes because he knows what happened in sparring a couple of times.

“I took his head off, that was with 20 oz gloves on my hand – imagine with 10 oz gloves on. With what’s happened to his eyes I just wish him the best and hope his eyes have no problems so he can come back quicker.

“I think he should take time to fix his mistake, like Dubois where he took his time, recovered and came back.

“I’m looking forward now, after Saturday I’m looking for a big name. I don’t think he would say yes now, he didn’t say yes before so he won’t now.”