There’s something to be said about Joe Joyce.
If a casual observer saw him through the optics of their own eyes, they’d think ‘slow’, ‘lump’, ‘cumbersome’, ‘no defence’, ‘eats shots for fun’, ‘fights like he is underwater’ etc.
Yet what Joe Joyce brings to the table is greater than the sum of his parts. If one was to isolate all of his individual attributes, then without a doubt he is slow, he can be cumbersome, he does eat shots for fun and can be lacking in defence.
Yet in totality, this is perhaps the modern day reincarnation of George Foreman, an absolute wrecking ball who has so far exposed the futility of man fighting machine. Joseph Parker, the former WBO champion on the back end of a 6 fight win streak, was the most recent man to try and halt the ever-relenting march of the Juggernaut.
Having rewatched the fight at home, I can tell you now that the telecast audio did not do justice to how loud the arena actually was. The atmosphere inside the AO Arena was bombastic, swathes of Joyce fans peppered around the arena volleying chants of support with a sizable pro Parker contingent. Parker and his trainer Andy Lee were doing a few seconds of mitt work in the ring as Joyce strode his way to the booming bass of his own personal entrance theme, ‘Big Juggernaut’ by Eyes.
The first two rounds were sparks flying as both men exchanged rounds. Parker was quicker in terms of speed and accuracy and took the first on my card before Joyce’s engine began whirring into motion as he took the second.
Then all hell broke loose.
A fantastic 3rd round so two-way action as both men landed bombs. The first half of the fight was competitive until the 6th round onwards when it became clear all the momentum was with the Juggernaut. Slow yet steady and patient in his approach, you could see the steam emit from Joe Joyce as he began surgically operating on Parker with the unperturbed nonchalance of a runaway locomotive, a bullet train with no handbrake, a 6’6 bowling ball steamrolling whatever human pins lay in his path. When Joyce is on the front foot with the unrelenting menace and ever-growing stamina, I don’t think even a nation of millions could hold him back.
A hook opened up a cut over Parker’s eye yet despite donning the proverbial crimson mask, the former WBO champion dug his heels further into the ground in what was already an exhausting dogfight. If there was one thing about Parker, that man has titanium balls and willpower. Many moments in the fight saw him caught clean and slightly dazed but he never gave up. The crowd recognised this fortitude and his supporters, a few sat behind me, were shouting advice such as ‘ONE TWO JOE’, ‘Come on Parker’ and ‘long left hook Joseph’ in an attempt to keep him in the war. Even as the championship rounds beckoned, Parker channeled the spirit of Roy Jones Jr as he unleashed a triple left hook on Joe Joyce in the final seconds of the 10th.
A memorable moment of defiance which proved to be Parker’s final stand. A clean left hook from Joe Joyce was the exclamation mark to a sensationally pulsating battle. For the first time in his career, Parker’s iron whiskers had finally been dented. He crumpled into a heap in the corner, heroically got up but not within the 10 seconds count. Joyce celebrated with his team and posed in front of us media.
Frazer Clarke, Boxxer’s upcoming heavyweight potential, had taken his seat to my left before the main event commenced and upon its conclusion, stood up and applauded the valiant efforts of both men. Tyson Fury and John Fury, both seated centrally to the section on my right, nodded and applauded as Fury’s stablemate was vanquished by the Juggernaut. Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford, also in the same section as the Fury’s, could not stop grinning at the carnage that had unfolded before us. The PPV card by Queensberry Promotions was fantastic as a whole and the main event was quite simply the sweetest cherry on a large boxing shaped cake.
A mouthwatering clash between Fury and Anthony Joshua appears to be in limbo as a self-imposed 5 PM GMT Monday deadline by Tyson Fury passed without any confirmation. Their handlers are insistent work behind the scenes remains ongoing to finalise the biggest fight in British boxing history yet the clock is ticking for such a mega fight to ever come to fruition.
At age 37, the clock is also ticking for Joe Joyce but he’s only 15 fights deep into his professional career and possesses a tool box which may afford him another few years at the upper apogee of the sport. What cannot be disputed is that in dispatching Parker, it’s ostensible that Joyce’s next fight must be for a world title. There is nowhere else to go except upwards. He’s fought in America. Bested Daniel Dubois in a battle of undefeated British heavyweights. Done what Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte couldn’t do and that is become the first man to dent the iron beard of Joseph Parker and solidified without any dispute, his number 1 ranking in the WBO. It must be Usyk or Fury next and nothing else should be acceptable for a man who is now easily in the top 5 heavyweights in the world.
If Fury V Joshua cannot happen (or probably never ever happens), give us Fury V Joyce instead. Fury remains the class of the division but it would be interesting to see how he handles Joyce’s pressure, chin and activity. The press conference would also be quite entertaining as Fury is a master provocateur, the puppeteer who pulls the strings in his opponents’ minds in an attempt to rattle them mentally before beating them physically. Yet the charm of Joe Joyce is that he plays the ‘worst trash talker in the world’ gimmick to perfection. He knows what he is, who he is and how he conveys himself and that’s both genuine and endearing.
If Fury V Joshua does happen or if Fury pivots away to fight Mahmoud Charr in a grotesquely negligible mismatch, the WBO should immediately mandate Joyce as the mandatory challenger for Usyk.
Too much time has been lost attempting to formulate an undisputed heavyweight championship fight. Fury v Wilder were locked in a trilogy for the better part of 2018 until 2021. Joshua and Usyk engaged in a series which took up near enough a year to settle. Fury V Usyk doesn’t appear to be palatable any time soon so with this in mind, it’s time to move on for good.
Usyk V Joyce would be fascinating. Both men have fought before in the WBSS with Usyk taking home a commanding victory yet that was back then, this is now.
Usyk is boxing’s grandmaster, the so far unsolvable wizard whose boxing dexterity has allowed him to become undisputed at cruiserweight and unified champion at heavyweight. He is quite simply legendary yet is no spring chicken himself and having ascended to the very summit of the sport, his body is starting to show wear and tear with the injuries and surgeries. Joyce might be catching Usyk at the right time if they were to clash and any dip, at least physically, in Usyk would surely be taken advantage of by Joyce.
In 2023, it’s title shot or nothing but Joe Joyce. The runaway locomotive keeps on moving at speed and after Saturday’s performance, one thing is for sure – Joyce is not hard to hit at all. In fact, he’s right there. But it’s one thing hitting him, and an entirely different proposition in stopping him. How demoralising must it be to hit something which doesn’t blink, hits back even harder and doesn’t stop coming forward.
Good luck to whoever steps in the ring next with Joyce because as past Saturdays event was aptly named, there truly is ‘Nowhere to Run’ when the Juggernaut is in flow.