The Long Road To The Huge Heavyweight Clash Between Joseph Parker And Joe Joyce

The two Joes have been circling each other for months, but finally they will meet in a ring
13:55, 04 Aug 2022

Every generation gets the will-they-or-won't-they story that it deserves. The 1980s had Cheers’ Sam and Diane. The 1990s kept us on the edge of our seat with Ross and Rachel. The 2010s had Ted and Robin. The 2020s has delivered Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker.

This fight was all but confirmed by Frank Warren during the Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte card at Wembley Stadium. Negotiations fell through, leading to much to-ing and fro-ing on social media between Parker and Joyce, each keen to blame the other for the collapse. But now it looks like this saga might finally find its way to a boxing ring.

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Mike Coppinger of ESPN is reporting that an agreement has been reached, with 24th September being targeted for the fight. Despite Parker recently inking a deal with BOXXER, who have an exclusive agreement with Sky Sports, BT Sport Box Office are believed to be televising the bout. 

It’s a high quality heavyweight bout, though putting it on pay-per-view is a bold step. Joyce is unproven as a PPV draw, with this being his first headline bout on a Box Office service. Parker is a former WBO world champion and has form on PPV in this country. But those bouts, his unification fight with Anthony Joshua and first bout with the popular Derek Chisora, each featured a proven draw in the opposite corner. Joyce has not yet shown he can swim in those waters financially, so the Parker fight will be an interesting litmus test of his marketability.

The real intrigue comes from how this fight will play out in the ring. On paper, the two men appear evenly-matched. Both were gifted amateurs, with Joyce’s Olympic silver medal outshining Parker’s achievements in the unpaid ranks. As professionals though, the New Zealander has the greater accomplishments.

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Joyce has amassed an unbeaten 14-0 record with 13 knockouts, lifting the British, European and Commonwealth titles in the process. But Parker’s 2016 WBO title win over future unified king Andy Ruiz Jr elevates him to a different plane as a pro. Widely ranked as the third-best heavyweight in the world during his reign, after Joshua and Deontay Wilder, Parker rattled off two defences of his crown before losing to ‘AJ’. He suffered a setback in his next bout, losing to Whyte via unanimous decision.

Parker is 6-0 with three knockouts since that defeat, with his last two victories both coming over Chisora. Joyce is in good form too, having beaten current WBA ‘regular’ champion Daniel Dubois, former title challenger Carlos Takam and veteran Christian Hammer in his last three outings. It is rare to find a 50-50 fight where both boxers are on an upward career trajectory, but Parker vs Joyce seems to offer exactly that.

Interestingly, the experience edge does not sit with the older fighter in this bout. At 36, Joyce is six years Parker’s senior. However, Parker has 18 more professional fights under his belt and has mixed at the very top of world level. Joyce may be older but, in all the ways that matter, he is the rookie in this bout.

That is what makes this clash exciting. You never truly know a boxer’s ceiling until they hit it, and Parker is by far the best fighter Joyce has met in the professional game. ‘Juggernaut’ has been matched tough throughout his career, having already beaten five fighters who have either held or challenged for world heavyweight gold. While those fighters were on the slide though, Parker is a young, dangerous heavyweight in his prime. Joyce will need to be at his best to win but, if he does, he will have proven himself as a world class fighter.

The two Joes have taken a long, meandering road to get to this bout. The time for social media sniping is done. This heavyweight blockbuster is a career-defining fight for both. Win and the door to a heavyweight shot is open. Lose and you find yourself at the back of the queue in a stacked division. The talking stops now. It’s time to fight.

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