Thursday, April 13th 2023

Press Conference Notes: Joe Joyce and Mikaela Mayer Ready to Co-Headline London Fight Night

Joyce-Zhang, Mayer-Linardatou and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT

LONDON (April 13, 2023) – Undefeated British knockout artist Joe Joyce and former unified junior lightweight champion Mikaela Mayer are set to co-headline an action-packed card this Saturday at Copper Box Arena in London.

Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) will defend his WBO interim heavyweight belt in the main event against Chinese contender and fellow Olympic silver medalist Zhilei Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs).

The co-feature will see Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) making her debut at 135 pounds against former two-time junior welterweight world champion Christina “Medusa” Linardatou (14-2, 6 KOs) in a 10-round battle for the vacant WBC interim lightweight championship.

Undercard fighters include heavyweight prospect Moses Itauma (2-0, 2 KOs) in a scheduled six-rounder against Ukraine’s Kostiantyn Dovbyshchenko (9-12-1, 6 KOs) and England’s Sam Noakes (10-0, 10 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight clash against Indian standout Karthik Sathish Kumar (10-0, 4 KOs)

Promoted by Queensberry Promotions, Joyce-Zhang, Mayer-Linardatou and undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Joe Joyce

“I’m a tough man. I started rugby a long time ago. I’ve tried a lot of sports. And I’ve finally found my sport in boxing. And it’s a whole package, all the ingredients that go into making a great champion. That’s what I want to be. And I’m getting close. I have the WBO interim title, but I don’t know how close I am to the world title.”

“All the others seem to be running scared or doing their own thing. I want the fights to happen. I get how things work with the governing bodies. And I can only just fight who is put in front of me. So, why not fight a good fight and give everyone an entertaining fight against Zhilei Zhang?”

“I respect Zhang’s power, and I won’t be going in there recklessly. He’s a southpaw, too. That’s more of a tricky style than what I’m used to. The last southpaw I fought was Lenroy Thomas in my fourth fight, which was for the Commonwealth title. In history, that was really quick. I’ve only had 15 fights with 14 knockouts. I’m in for some proper fights and will give everyone value for their money.”

Zhilei Zhang

“We accepted this fight with no questions. For me, I’m here for a reason. I’m here to become the strongest and the best. And I know that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

“The translation of ‘The Juggernaut’ in Chinese is Red Tank. That’s what people call him. He has a tough chin. He has great stamina. But I’m the ‘Big Bang.’”

“From the first round of their fight, Joseph Parker fought scared. He fought going backwards and running around the ring. So, when it comes to direct body contact, there hasn’t been anyone who has hit Joe Joyce with solid punches. But, I will land my shots.”

Mikaela Mayer

“I like fighting in the U.K. I like the fans here. The energy they bring to the arena is always great. They’re a lot of fun. I feel like I did a lot of work in my last outing here in terms of media. It was a huge fight and the Queen had passed, so we had to come out several times to promote the fight. And I just wanted to continue that moment and come out here and put on a great performance in front of some great fans.”

“I am coming off a loss. Yet I feel like I’m the greatest I’ve ever been. Skill-wise, I have taken another step forward. But at the same time, it’s almost like I’m taking a step back. I didn’t want that to be the case. I didn’t want to take a step back when it came to my competition or my next move in the sport, so I told my team that I wanted a top competitor. I wanted someone who challenge me and motivate me and get me back in position for a world title.

“That’s Christina Linardatou. She is accomplished. She’s a top ranked. And I wanted to put on a good fight for the fans against a worthy opponent, and she is a worthy opponent.”

“Christina has a very aggressive, come-forward style. So, obviously, I’m the taller and leaner boxer, so you are going to see me boxing and moving. But I also have to demand some respect and sit on my shots. There will be moments that where we’ll be in close and having to let my hands go as well. So, I know it’s going to be a really exciting, action-packed fight.”

Christina Linardartou

“I feel great. I’m so happy to be coming back. I had already done a fight after giving birth, but this is the first big fight. I’m very excited that it’s against Mikaela, who is a very tough fighter.”

“I have been keeping an eye on her for years now. I keep an eye on all my possible opponents. I keep an eye on all the women I could fight, from 130 to 140.”

“I wasn’t nervous [at the Grand Arrivals]. I was thinking she was trying to find the nervousness in me. But, I’m calm. I feel better than at any other previous time because of the processes. It was very difficult to get into the condition that I once was. The process makes you stronger, not nervous.”

“Advantages? We are both strong. We are both fast. I don’t know what exactly to tell you about advantages. I only know that I feel very strong and very fast. I think I’m faster. My defense is good. That’s my favorite. My defense.”

Saturday, April 15

ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT)

Joe Joyce vs. Zhang Zhilei, 12 rounds, Joyce’s WBO Interim Heavyweight Title

Mikaela Mayer vs. Christina Linardatou, 10 rounds, Vacant WBC Interim Lightweight Title

Moses Itauma vs. Kostiantyn Dovbyshchenko, 6 rounds, Heavyweight

Sam Noakes vs.  Karthik Sathish Kumar, 12 rounds, Lightweight