Four years ago, Joe Joyce was in Rio De Janeiro competing for what eventually turned out to be a silver medal at the Olympic Games.
Four years later and in the same week that Team GB’s hopefuls started their journeys at the Tokyo Olympics, Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs) took a step closer to securing a world title shot, after breaking down and stopping Carlos Takam in six rounds at the SSE Arena on Saturday.
The ‘Juggeranut’, who headed to the ring wearing a helmet in tribute to the X-Men character with the same name, was forced to eat a number of accurate right hands in the early stages, as Takam poured forward.
The British heavyweight had an over five inch height advantage, but that seemed to do more harm than benefit early on as he seemed to struggle to pin down his seasoned foe.
However, the 35-year-old did find his rhythm and after a left hook at the start of the sixth round stumbled the Cameroon-born Frenchman, the ‘Juggernaut’ unloaded several unanswered blows, before referee Steve Gray intervened, much to an exasperated Takam who called for a rematch in the aftermath.
Whilst, he was not able to impose the same consistent dominance as he had done against Daniel Dubois in November, Joyce secured arguably the most significant win of his career over a former world title challenger, who had only been stopped three times prior against Anthony Joshua, Alexander Povetkin and Derek Chisora.
Moreover, he cemented his position as the WBO mandatory title challenger to Joshua’s belt meaning a world title shot is assured and sent out a stark reminder of his exceptional punch resistance and power, all the attributes to trouble the best in the division.
“What I want is AJ or Usyk,” Joyce said post-fight to BT Sport.
“No I don’t need any more tests [before a world title shot]. I’ve picked the level that’s up and strategically moved, so I’ve started at the deep end and I’m carrying on that way on a steep trajectory.
“So I’m ready now.”
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Whilst Joyce is eager to stamp his mark at the very top level next, with Joshua facing Oleksandr Usyk on September 25 and then potentially WBC champion, Tyson Fury in a long-awaited undisputed title showdown, providing he overcomes Deontay Wilder in their trilogy on October 9, the Putney man is likely to have to bide his time.
Promoter Frank Warren confirmed he would look to keep his charge busy with a clash in October, so who could Joyce, the WBC Silver, WBO international and Commonwealth titlist realistically face next?
To prepare himself for a world title shot against the likes of 6”6, Anthony Joshua, it would make sense for Joyce to face opponents closer to his height.
Dominic Breazeale fits that requirement, standing at 6”7 and having competed at the elite level.
‘Trouble’ was stopped in seven rounds by Joshua in a challenge for his IBF crown in 2016 and blown away in devastating fashion by then-WBC holder, Wilder inside the opening round in 2019.
The 35-year-old is coming off a third professional defeat to Otto Wallin in February, where he was defeated on points and therefore he could be viewed as a step down in opposition, coming off two losses.
However, Breazeale (20-3, 18 KOs) has a profile in the UK from his bout with ‘AJ’ and could provide Joyce with a different proposition given his height and reach in a bout the Brit would head in as favourite.
Another experienced operator, Luis Ortiz could be another feasible opponent.
Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) is a former two-time world title challenger, with his only two defeats coming to Deontay Wilder by knockout.
At 42-years-old, his best years are surely behind him, although on his day, ‘King Kong’ is a problem for anyone in the division with his tricky southpaw style and could be a good learning fight for Joyce who is still relatively inexperienced in the professional ranks with 13 bouts thus far.
No problem https://t.co/vvyVm2uPdE
— Sam Jones (@mrsamjones88) July 25, 2021
Joyce’s manager Sam Jones he would have no issue making the match-up in reply to a suggestion on social media and the Cuban, who saw off Alexander Flores in the opening round in November is known in the UK having beaten Dave Allen in 2016 and is ranked at #7 by the WBO.
Ortiz like Breazeale is signed with Premier Boxing Champions and a deal would have to be struck with Joyce’s promotional team, Queensberry Promotions.
Otto Wallin proved he could mix with the best when he faced Tyson Fury in 2019 and could be an interesting option.
Wallin (22-1, 14 KOs), who infamously opened a massive cut on the ‘Gypsy King’, before losing on points in Las Vegas has registered two victories since against Travis Kauffman and Breazeale as mentioned.
When asked if he would be open to facing the ‘Juggernaut’, Wallin told Pro Boxing Fans on Monday: “I think that’s a possibility.
“I get asked this a lot by different guys, ‘do you want to fight this guy, do you want to fight that guy?’
🇸🇪 WALLIN OPEN TO FACING JOYCE 🇬🇧
— Pro Boxing Fans (@ProBoxingFans) July 26, 2021
“Yeah I’m a fighter I’ll fight anybody. It just comes down to, does it make sense. If there’s a big risk there should be a big reward, maybe an eliminator or something, so I think that’s what it would take to make that happen.”
The 30-year-old is without an opponent at the moment and is familiar to the UK audience as a result of his bout with Fury, as well as standing at over 6”5, he would be an ideal test prior to potentially facing the taller men of the division.
Although Derek Chisora was considered, he is reportedly in negotiations for a rematch with Joseph Parker, so was not chosen amongst our picks. Let us know who you think Joyce should face next.