With Dillian Whyte seemingly out of the picture now, Joyce could well prove to be the ideal man to step up in his place.
All eyes are on Tyson Fury as he weighs up his options for his next defence of the WBC heavyweight title.
With the Gypsy King forced to wait for a potential unification bout with either Oleksandr Usyk or Anthony Joshua, he’ll have to look elsewhere for his next fight, and finding an opponent has been far from simple.
Dillian Whyte had looked to be the obvious choice, with the Brit having stood as mandatory challenger for some time, but having pulled out of his fight with Otto Wallin last month, there is yet more uncertainty over who Fury’s next opponent will be.
With Whyte’s legal challenge against the WBC expected to be ongoing, it looks a certainty now that Fury will have to look elsewhere if he wants to get a fight in at the start of 2022.
One option for him could be former sparring partner Joe Joyce, who is looking for an opponent himself.
Who is Joe Joyce?
Joyce was a latecomer to the professional ranks, having made the step up from the amateur ranks in 2017 at the age of 31.
Before then, he’d made his name as a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and a silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with a bronze at the 2015 World Championships thrown into the mix.
Since turning professional, he has maintained an unbeaten record of 13-0, with 12 of his wins coming via knockout, and most recently saw off Carlos Takam in July.
With Whyte seemingly out of the picture, Joyce is eager to step up to the plate and face Fury early next year.
He called his former sparring partner out on Instagram, posting: “I have got lots of respect for @gypsyking101 as a friend and as a fighter, but my schedule is free in February.”
And he doubled down on the challenge in a recent interview with talkSPORT, saying: “My aim in professional boxing is to be a world champion so fights that get me closer to that role, that’s what I’m all about, especially if it’s for a world title. I’m definitely game.
“It’s a tough fight, a very tough fight. Tyson Fury is very skilled. He’s a tall, big strong guy. He’s got long range, he can switch and hit on both southpaw and orthodox. His skillset is really good and his mindset, it’s going to be a big challenge, but we’ll see what happens.”
When could it happen?
The most likely date for a bout would be some time in February or March, with both fighters’ schedules empty around that time.
With Fury currently helping out his brother Tommy for his grudge match against Jake Paul, March would perhaps appear the more likely option if he is to take on a fight in the New Year.
The indications are that he does want to set something up, likely to keep him fresh for either Usyk or Joshua, and he’ll want to avoid anything after March in order to avoid jeopardising a potential bout against either.
Fury doesn’t seem too keen on a bout with Joyce – in fact, the WBC champion has stated he’d rather face Savannah Marshall in a cross-gender clash.
“I’m not really interested in fighting Joe Joyce. I’m probably looking at someone like Savannah Marshall to fight, in a cross gender heavyweight match-up,” he told IFL TV.
“That’s more interesting to me. I really do rate Savannah as a fighter, I think she’s an unbelievable fighter and I’d be really interested in making a fight with her to be honest.”
Will it go ahead?
If Fury is to take on a bout in the New Year, then it would seem Joyce is one of the more likely options, despite what the Gypsy King has said.
With Usyk and Joshua’s rematch set for either March or April, any fight for Fury would have to happen around the same time – anything later would likely hamper his hopes of facing either later in the year.
Joyce looks as though he’ll be fighting around that time regardless, with the Brit having held talks with Kubrat Pulev as well, but he’ll keep his options open on the off-chance he can get a title shot at Fury.
The ball is firmly in Fury’s court. If he wants the fight, then Joyce will be ready to face him. If not, he may well have to just wait for either Usyk or Joshua.