The Putney “Juggernaut” Joe Joyce rolls into Manchester this week for the biggest fight of his pro career so far.
Joyce meets world-class Kiwi Joseph Parker in the Manchester Arena on Saturday night, convinced they will deliver a war for the fans.
Joyce, 36-years-old, is 14-0 and the biggest win of his to date came behind closed doors against Daniel Dubois during the Covid pandemic in November 2020.
“It’s my first big, big fight in front of a crowd,” Joyce, 14-0 (13), said. “There’s a lot of hype behind it, there are two great fighters, myself and Joseph, and it’s going to be a tough fight. I believe it’s going to be my hardest fight to date. He’s tricky, he got good head movement, good footwork, and he really wants it. But it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be an enjoyable fight which ends with me knocking him out.”
Parker, aged 30, is coached by Ireland’s former middleweight world champion Andy Lee, and Joyce has noted improvements, but he’s under no illusions that Parker wants to win to progress his own career.
“I saw the Chisora fight [rematch with Parker] and he looked good, he looked strong, he looked game,” Joyce explained. “And I’ve seen some of his interviews and he’s going for this one. He’s not doing it for his coach or anyone else, he’s doing it for himself.”
The potential blend in styles on Saturday is appealing. Joyce is the relentless bulldozer, while Parker is the experienced boxer-puncher who doesn’t like to give ground unnecessarily.
Can Joyce get him to stand and fight for periods of the contest?
“Yes, definitely,” Joyce predicted. “He’s got good footwork but so have I. It’s going to be very even. I think maybe he underestimates my skills as well as my relentless Juggernautness [sic]. My footwork is good, my head movement is good, my handspeed… People worry about my handspeed but my timing is good. I’m pretty well-rounded. So is he.”
Parker is No. 3 with The Ring, Joyce is No. 6, but the winner is looking at fights with the biggest names in the division and the likes of Tyson Fury (Parker’s campmate), Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk (an old amateur foe of Joyce).
“That’s why it’s extra exciting, because it’s a risky fight,” Joyce admitted.
Is he of the belief that the mooted December 3 clash between Fury and Joshua could happen?
“I have no idea,” he said, flatly. Then, referring to his own path, he said: “It’s just long, because if it does there might be a rematch clause… and if Fury-Joshua fight, potentially Fury is going to want to call out Usyk, especially if he beats Joshua… or maybe Joshua might want a rematch. But it’s irrelevant because me and Parker are fighting for the WBO Interim, so the winner basically gets the belt unless Usyk chooses to defend it. But you never know. Money talks. It’s like EastEnders, it’s like a soap opera. You think things are signed and done and there are always twists and turns when you least expect it.”
Wilder returns from a year out to face Robert Helenius on October 15 in Brooklyn and that is a future bout Joyce would consider.
“Yeah, for the right money and the right belt,” Joe continued. “It would be a good fight. He’s got a massively strong punch I’d have to be aware of, but these are all good fights.”
The heavyweight division is percolating. The best appears to want to fight the best and this weekend is another indication of that.
“Just keep it exciting,” Joyce said. “[With] all these great fighters in the mix, I’m excited. Then the likes of Fury and Usyk might be thinking about retiring and if they all go and I’m still here, it’s about all the up-and-coming heavyweights and taking on those.”