On Saturday night, Joe Joyce (14-0, 13 KOs) pummelled Christian Hammer into submission after four knockdowns in four one-sided rounds.
Once again, the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist perhaps got hit cleanly too often for some people’s liking, but as ever his combination of work rate, power and solid chin proved to be too much for his opponent.
The ‘Juggernaut’ may not be fashionable, but he is effective. A 6’6” man, weighing 18 stone, that does not stop throwing punches gives any heavyweight in history a tough night.
As things stand, Joyce is currently ranked No.1 with the WBO, No.2 with the WBC and No.6 with the IBF. As such, Frank Warren is unlikely to match his charge with anyone too dangerous.Here are five fighters Joyce could face next:
Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs)
I know, I stated a few lines above that Joyce would note face anyone dangerous next, then start this list with the biggest puncher in the division, but bear with me. After his devastating knockout victory over Dillian Whyte, WBC champion, Tyson Fury announced his retirement.
That was over two months ago and the ‘Gypsy King’ appears more intent on facing MMA fighters in exhibitions than defending his belt against boxers. Sooner, rather than later, the sanctioning body are going to get fed up with the situation. If Fury is not earning them money, they will move the belt onto someone that will. As things stand, the highest ranked contenders in the WBC ratings are Wilder and Joyce.
A vacant title fight is one of the scenarios in which I could see this bout taking place. Wilder displayed some signs of improvement in his trilogy fight Fury, under the tutelage of Malik Scott. With more time together, it is possible that the ‘Bronze Bomber’ has continued to evolve as a fighter. This is one of the most interesting heavyweight match-ups that can be made: Wilder is vulnerable, but has the power to hurt anyone, Joyce can be hit, but has one hell of a chin. It’s the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Sign me up.
Dillian Whyte (28-3, 19 KOs)
This one is included because it is possible, if unlikely. Dillian Whyte is famously a promotional free- agent who has been working with Matchroom on a fight-by-fight basis. A domestic showdown between the two heavyweights would certainly be a pay-per-view event, which might make the risk- to-reward ratio favourable to those in the Joyce business.
If the financials are right, it is conceivable that Whyte could be tempted, after all, a victory for the ‘Body Snatcher’ would see him inherit Joyce’s lofty rankings. However, after the well-documented issues between Frank Warren and Whyte ahead of the heavyweight’s unsuccessful challenge for Fury’s WBC belt, they may be a reluctant to work with one another again.
Whyte is a notoriously tough negotiator, having been unable to strike a deal to face Anthony Joshua for the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, in 2019. Whyte took umbrage at the purse split for a trilogy fight, had he won the rematch. It appears at present that Whyte’s preference is to face Anthony Joshua, regardless of how AJ fairs against Oleksandr Usyk, next month. However, money talks, but don’t hold your breath.
Otto Wallin (24-1, 14 KOs)
If Joyce opts to go the WBO route, he will become the mandatory challenger for the winner of the rematch between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua. The Ukrainian is the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to be successful once again. If that fight plays out as expected, it would make sense for Joyce to face a southpaw.
The ‘Juggernaut’ has only fought one left-hander as a professional when he despatched of Lenroy Thomas inside two rounds, four years ago. There are few portsiders in the heavyweight ranks, which is what makes Wallin a valuable commodity. Stylistically, the Swede bears no resemblance to Usyk, but may be the best available preparation for a showdown with the former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
From a promotional standpoint, Wallin could serve a purpose too. The 31-year-old gave Tyson Fury a tougher than expected fight in 2019. If Joyce were to defeat Wallin with greater ease than the ‘Gypsy King’ it would generate hype amongst the general public. Wallin was on these shores earlier this year, taking on Kamil Sokolowski on a BOXXER card, which adds to the belief that this bout could feasibly come to fruition.
Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KOs)
Bakole’s trainer, Billy Nelson, has been calling for this bout since Joyce turned professional. For a long time, the fight was simply too high-risk for little reward. Bakole is talented, that has never been disputed, but he was without a noteworthy win. Now, he has one. In May, the Airdrie-based Congolese fighter dropped Tony Yoka twice en route to a majority decision win. The one-sided nature of the bout was not reflected in the scorecards.
Of course, Yoka pipped Joyce to the Olympic gold medal with a controversial decision at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Nelson and Joyce’s manager, Sam Jones, have been raising the profile of this fight with their constant bickering on Twitter. If it is ever to happen, the time is now.
Sadly, Bakole may not pass the risk assessment. It is possible he looked too dangerous against Yoka. Yet, if Jones has as much faith in his charge as he claims to have during social media exchanges, it remains possible. One thing is for certain, Billy Nelson will be demanding it happens, on a daily basis.
Sergey Kuzmin (17-2, 13 KOs)
Now, this feels more realistic. I’ve included Kuzmin, simply because promotionally it would be straight forward to make, but he is the place-holder for any of a number of mediocre heavyweights.
Given Joyce’s prominent position in the WBC and WBO rankings, it is highly unlikely any risks will be taken next. Kuzmin ticks a few boxes; he is known in the U.K. for halting David Price, once stopped Joyce in 32 seconds as an amateur (which will be the narrative used to promote the contest), but has not fulfilled his potential in the professional ranks and is now 35.
It is probably a high-profile enough fight to headline a televised card, but Kuzmin does not pose a great deal of risk. I can hear the revenge narrative already.