Joe Joyce brutally honest about Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Olympic agony and artistic chaos
For a heavyweight in a hurry, Joe Joyce is not happy at being made to wait. But as he ticks over in isolation in his London flat, the 34-year-old is remaining calm and focused. He says the public’s health is paramount amid the global pandemic and believes the postponement of his gateway showdown against Daniel Dubois – from April 11 to July 11 – works in his favour.
“Tyson Fury’s tied up. Joshua beats Pulev… maybe it’s me next. I used to love sparing with Joshua. Sometimes we used to go at it, toe-to-toe, really connecting.”
So, does he think a shot at Joshua’s WBA, IBF and WBO belts would result in a slugfest? Maybe not.
“It wouldn’t be a very good thing to do that against Joshua. He’s good in a dogfight, but it would be fun. You don’t want to take big shots against Joshua.”
Despite being four years older than the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Joyce feels his advantage would lie in his cardiovascular fitness.
“I don’t think he (Joshua) would like to go 12 rounds. I wouldn’t be on the back foot though, I remember him being slightly taller with a longer reach then me. My skill set, my strength, is to come forward.”
And if his path after winning the British and European titles against Dubois, did wind up leading to WBC champ Tyson Fury’s door, Joyce is convinced he’d not allow Fury to repeat the front-foot tactics that lead to the spectacular rematch win over Deontay Wilder.
“If Fury was to fight me, he’d want to outbox me. He’s not going to knock me out. It would be me trying to walk him down, him trying to slip shots and counter. It would be a great match”
If Joyce isn’t wasting any time dwelling on the postponement of his fight, he has taken a moment to think of the current would-be Olympians, who have had to come to terms with the 2020 Tokyo games being pushed back a year. He’s especially sympathetic to his super-heavyweight successor Frazer Clarke, who’s been waiting for his gold medal moment for nearly a decade.
“It’s really tough for Fraz. Joshua came along (2012) and then I came along (2016). He’s been waiting for this for a long time. He’s in his late 20s, it’s a long time to wait. Although, for some younger guys it might work for them as they have more time to prepare and develop.”
Clarke’s followed in Joyce’s footsteps so far in this amateur cycle by winning Commonwealth gold in 2018 (Joyce did the same in 2014), but Joyce wouldn’t have hung around had the 2016 Rio Olympics been kicked back a year.
“No chance. I won gold at the Commonwealth games and I said to myself, just two more years. It was only two years to the Olympics. Another year would have been a big difference.”
While the UK remains in relative lockdown due to Coronavirus, Joyce is confident he’ll be able to prepare properly for Dubois.
“I’ve got loads of time. Step it up in April. Spar in May. Sparring is key because, obviously, you can’t do that with social distancing.”
Unable to trade with other boxers in training, Joyce has turned to technology in order to simulate a match.
“I’ve been training with a virtual reality program called The Thrill of The Fight. I put a headset on and spar with a virtual fighter. It’s pretty good, pretty realistic. I get to deal with combinations, throw lots of punches.”
Before Joyce was a boxer, he was an artist. He graduated with a fine art degree from Middlesex University, although, with the pandemic prompting rising levels of anxiety worldwide, Joyce wouldn’t recommend his style of painting to people looking for a distraction.
“It’s not (relaxing) the way I paint. It’s really messy! I’ve ordered some (painting) stuff though and will probably do some over the next few weeks.”
The showdown with the 22-year-old Dubois can’t come fast enough for Joyce, who sped to a 10-0 record inside two years of pro boxing, but by the time of the fight will have been out of the ring for 12 months. ‘Turning over’ in his 30s, Joyce plotted a fast path to the summit of the sport and does expect the frustration to come out in the early exchanges with the unbeaten Dubois.
“It might start off a slug fest. We’ll both be fired up having had to wait, but after I warm up, I’ll start to get my boxing going and I’ll raise my level. I’ll be a level above (Dubois).”
What if COVID-19 means the O2 Arena can’t be opened to the public in July? Well, while Joyce wants the fans there to create an “energising” atmosphere, he’s aware a behind-closed-doors bout would be a big television event and senses his experience in amateur tournaments has set him up for such a scenario.
“It would be strange behind closed doors. You wouldn’t have fans there, but in big tournaments like the Europeans in the amateurs, in the early rounds, there was often only a few coaches and family members in massive arenas, so I’d be used to that.”
Joyce must bide his time a little longer for the British and European title fight, an opportunity for him to produce another destructive win in front of expectant fans at The O2, where tickets bought for the original date will be valid on July 11.