By: Hans Themistode
Joe Joyce truly enjoyed his tenth round stoppage victory over Daniel Dubois. However, the moment his hand was raised in victory, the British native immediately moved on to his next goal, winning the heavyweight title.
At the moment, Joyce’s championship dreams will have to wait as unified champion Anthony Joshua and WBC/Ring magazine titlist in Tyson Fury have nearly come to terms on a two-fight deal. While Joyce could opt to wait on the sidelines until he’s given a title shot, the former Olympic Silver medalist is nearing a fight deal of his own to take on Oleksandr Usyk with the interim WBO title on the line.
“It’s looking like April,” said Joyce when asked when he expects to take on Usyk during a recent interview with BT Sports. “Negotiations are going well and it looks like the fight is lining up quite nicely. It’s almost confirmed.”
Usyk, 34, currently holds the WBO’s number one spot in the rankings. His shot at the winner of Joshua vs Fury is all but guaranteed unless he comes up short against Joyce in their showdown. Although nothing has been finalized, Usyk is expected to walk into their contest as the betting favorite. Usyk’s perceived advantage over Joyce not only stems from his undisputed title reign in the Cruiserweight ranks and his unblemished record but also a 2013 win Usyk scored over Joyce as an amateur.
While it may have been eight years ago, Joyce hasn’t forgotten that faithful night. In fact, Joyce is using it as a motivating factor as he believes that the first time they tangled was a lifetime ago and that he is a completely different fighter compared to then.
“His skills were like next level. He was really on fire,” said Joyce when reminiscing of their first matchup. “I’ve learned a lot since then. He’s bulked up in size a bit but has lost a bit of speed so I’ve kind of caught up to him.”
Whether Joyce has actually caught up with Usyk or not is a question that will be answered on fight night. But according to the powerful heavyweight contender, he believes he knows good and well what it will take to usurp his man once they face off in the ring.
Getting into a boxing match is something Joyce will avoid doing. Instead, he’ll look to use his hulking six-feet six-inch frame to impose his will and punish Usyk over the course of 12 rounds.
“With the pro gloves, I have the power to stop him. I just have to catch up to him and don’t let him cut off the ring too much. He’s a tough person to land a shot on. I’ve got to hit him on the nose, body, the arms, legs – he’s not going to like it.”