Joe Joyce Is Ready For The World. Is The World Ready For Joe Joyce?

Joe Joyce is targeting a world title shot after knocking out Joseph Parker
12:00, 26 Sep 2022

‘Juggernaut’ by name, ‘Juggernaut’ by nature. Joe Joyce ran down everyone in his way to reach the front of the heavyweight queue, knocking out former WBO champion Joseph Parker in 11 entertaining rounds in Manchester on Saturday night. Both the fighter and his promoter spoke of world titles being the next step for the 37-year-old. The WBO interim bauble Joyce picked up for his troubles supposedly entitles him to a shot at unified heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk. 

The dramatic public negotiations for WBC champion Tyson Fury to fight Anthony Joshua also appear to be concluding imminently. If they are unsuccessful, as members of the ‘AJ’ camp fear, it appears likely he’ll meet Manuel Charr. But perhaps ‘The Gypsy King’ can be ensnared for a Joyce bout. Fury loves the spotlight and, after recording his finest career victory over Parker, there’s no hotter property than Joyce in the division currently.


But putting aside the twists and turns of boxing’s fragile political landscape for a moment and assuming these fights can be secured; how would Joe get on? Can he follow in the footsteps of recent British heavyweight success stories like Fury and Joshua and reign a world champion?

Joyce is unconventional and it’s fair to say neither Fury nor Usyk has fought anyone quite like him. ‘Juggernaut’ possesses a startling and idiosyncratic jab. As seen in his 2020 knockout of Daniel Dubois, his lead hand often looks like it isn’t doing anything until it does. His jab lacks the aesthetic ram-rod of a Larry Holmes or Wladimir Klitschko lead. But he knocked Dubois out with it after completely closing the eye of ‘Dynamite’. He used the same punch to marshal Parker round the ring in Manchester. It is demonstrably a more powerful shot than it looks, capable of befuddling and hurting elite heavyweights.

Another area in which Joyce differs from his fellow heavyweight contenders is his approach to defense. More pertinently, the fact he doesn’t use one. It’s not that the Olympic silver medalist can’t take evasive action. The big man demonstrated some elegant shoulder rolls to evade Parker’s danger punch, a looping right hook, on Saturday. But for the majority of a fight, Joyce will simply walk forward and absorb punches in order to land his own. 

It’s an approach that has worked incredibly well so far. People thought stepping up in class would blunt the effectiveness of this remedial approach, but Joyce’s incredible ability to absorb punches coupled with his own power means he’s onto a winner. Of his opponents, only ex-world title challenger Bryant Jennings has heard the final bell. Considering the American once took Wladimir Klitschko the full 12 rounds, there’s no shame in that. Joyce’s other fourteen victims have landed plenty of leather between them, but never enough to stop themselves getting taken out.

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How would this strategy fare against Usyk and Fury though? Let’s start with the Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and The Ring champion. ‘The Cat’ fears no man’s power. He emerged victorious and unscathed from 24 rounds with power-punching Joshua after all. He also boasts an awkwardly brilliant ring-style that is even harder to read than Joyce’s own puzzle-box stylings. Nobody has ever taken Joyce off his rhythm, but Usyk is notorious for not letting his opponents establish one.

It is unlikely that Usyk will find the power that has eluded Joyce’s 15 previous opponents. The ex-cruiserweight king is not a one-punch knockout artist. But the accumulation of blows, and the speed with which they would be dealt, would be unlike anything Joyce has seen before. It’s a well-poised match-up. Both are durable. Both are difficult to plan for. Both have a high ring IQ. Usyk has the edge considering he has called world title level his home for the last six years. But Joyce has a lot of attributes that Usyk has never encountered before, which could help him pull off the upset.

Fury is a different concept altogether. For the first time, the towering ‘Juggernaut’ would be giving up size and reach to the giant ‘Gypsy King’. He can bang, too, as Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte have found out in his most recent fights. His chin isn’t the best you’ll find, a clear advantage that the iron-jawed Joyce enjoys. But while knocking Fury down isn’t a problem, keeping him there is something no fighter has managed. His heroics against Wilder will live forever as an example of his incredible resilience. Fury is the hardest fight out there for Joyce and one that looks like possibly being a bridge too far.

Joe Joyce can reign as a world champion. Were we not in such a talent-rich era, he’d probably be one already. Parker had a decent reign as WBO champion a few years back and Joyce just wiped the floor with him. Bermane Stiverne had a brief holiday with the WBC belt too, and Joyce crushed him. Heavyweight boxing in 2022 is an elite club, however. But if there’s one thing that is certain after a stunning signature win, it’s the fact that Joyce thoroughly belongs in that club.

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