Joe Joyce faces Christian Hammer on Saturday night at Wembley Arena. While the veteran German has long plied his trade fighting name heavyweights, and inevitably losing to them, he is not the opponent most expected ‘Juggernaut’ to be facing. During the mammoth Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte card at Wembley Stadium in April, Joyce came face-to-face with former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Promoter Frank Warren was on hand to confirm the fight was close to being done. But close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades, and the fight never made it to the ring.
The war of words continues on social media over whose fault it is that the proposed Joyce-Parker fight isn’t taking place. It was an intriguing bout, a solid former champion taking on a man that many tip to fight for the crown one day soon. But the histrionics are already growing tiresome considering how many good options are out there for both.
With Joyce fighting this weekend, we’ll focus on his options rather than Parker’s. It may seem unfair to unfurl a possible future for the Brit while Hammer still looms, but all signs indicate that ‘Juggernaut’ will be victorious. Hammer has lost every time he has stepped up in class to fight a name heavyweight. Tyson and Hughie Fury, Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz and Frank Sanchez are among those that have defeated the German. He’s more than a journeyman, but heavyweights in Joyce’s bracket rarely struggle with him.
So if Joyce does get past Hammer as expected, what will follow? Given the campaigns all involved seem to be mounting on social media, it feels like the Parker fight could be revived. It would be an interesting match-up, but it is far from essential. There are numerous other avenues Joyce could take that would be equally, if not more, beneficial.
The first and perhaps easiest would be to bide his time. Joyce is currently the WBO number one heavyweight. Oleksandr Usyk puts that belt, along with the WBA and IBF straps, on the line against Anthony Joshua later this summer. While it is expected WBC, The Ring and lineal king Tyson Fury will swiftly un-retire in a bid to meet the winner, an undisputed title fight is not guaranteed. Such a bout would likely involve protracted contract talks and a lot of posturing before it was signed. Should the WBO invoke their mandatory in that time, Usyk or Joshua may be forced to meet Joyce in order to maintain control of the belt and keep the allure of the undisputed title bout alive.
Equally on the other side of the negotiating table, Joyce is ranked number two by the WBC. Their current number one is Deontay Wilder, who Fury is highly unlikely to meet for a fourth time. If ‘The Gypsy King’ does return and talks with whoever his fellow champion is at the time break down, Joyce presents an exciting option. A domestic super-fight always sells well, and lest we forget Fury did threaten to move onto Joyce when the Dillian Whyte negotiations stalled.
Either way, Joyce can afford to take a brief sabbatical and wait for a title to come his way. But this is perhaps anathema to a fighting man such as the Olympic silver medalist. If Joyce is set on fighting while the logjam at the top of the division sorts itself out, there are exciting matches out there for him.
A rematch with Daniel Dubois sells for a number of reasons. Joyce stopped ‘Dynamite’ in ten rounds in 2020 at the height of lockdown boxing. Dubois has racked up three knockout victories since, and captured the WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight championship with a fourth-round stoppage of Trevor Bryan last month. A “repeat or revenge” British grudge match with a “world” title on the line would sell tickets, particularly as the public were denied the chance to witness their first bout in person.
Joyce may also want to target the winners of a couple of the division’s exciting upcoming battles. Andy Ruiz Jr and Luis Ortiz will tangle in September and Joyce would fancy his chances against either. ‘Juggernaut’ likely feels the same about Derek Chisora and Kubrat Pulev’s bout next weekend. A fight with any of these four would be interesting and, in the case of all but Pulev, would garner more attention than a Parker bout.
So assuming Hammer gets hammered this Saturday, Joyce could be one of the movers and shakers in the division. His combination of high ranking, marketable unbeaten record and Olympic pedigree make him a major factor at the top of the sport. He’d do well to realise there is an entire world out there for him beyond Joseph Parker. He might well be the champion of that world one day.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change