A remarkable Joe Joyce scored a sensational 10th round victory over Daniel Dubois to claim the British, Commonwealth and European titles in a major heavyweight upset at Church House in Westminster, London, on Saturday night.
The seasoned Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs) withstood the best blows of Dubois to close his rival’s left eye with an educated left lead. He skilfully targeted the injury before a stout jab to that swollen eye sent Dubois down to one knee for the full count in a shocking finale.
“I’ve taken some big shots and, respect to Daniel, he has got some power and he is young, fresh and hungry,” Joyce told BT Sport’s Steve Bunce afterwards. “He can come again. But I have felt power like that before and, with my experience, I have learned to ride it and come back. I am blessed with a good chin, so I can keep going and keep moving forward. I felt his power and I was happy to take it, but preferably not take it.
“I started looking at the eye and it was starting to swell up. I was quite comfortable landing [my jab], moving away from his right and trying not to get too close. Because that was when he was going to let them go and try not to get backed up on the ropes.”
Dubois added: “He caught me with a good jab and the jab was pretty accurate. I couldn’t see out of the eye, it just happens man. I can’t explain it, he just pinged it. I couldn’t see out of it, I was trying my best and it happened. I’ve been hit hard but it was the positioning on the eye. I’m a tough guy, I will come again. He rode the punches well. I was probably a little trigger happy. I need to be smarter and maybe pace myself a bit more.”
On Boxing Social’s card, Joyce had forged a narrow 86-85 lead entering that fateful 10th round but the official judges were split. Dubois led by 86-85 (Mark Lyson) and 88-83 (John Latham) on two cards with Joyce ahead 87-84 (Victor Loughlin) on the other. Dubois had erroneously been reported as leading by eight points on one card, which was not the case.
The blueprint to victory was there from the opening moments. A calm and collected Joyce dictated the range in the opener, landing a solid jab to head and body to redden Dubois’ features in a promising start.
Fired up by his corner, Dubois (15-1, 14 KOs) began with the bit between his teeth in the second, catching Joyce with a right hand in a brisk response. Joyce looked badly rattled when Dubois landed clubbing right hands in a clinch. The younger Dubois was now far more assertive as Joyce entered survival mode.
Dubois was unloading with devil early in the third as Joyce looked unsteady. But the Juggernaut didn’t budge and Dubois breathed heavily after his early exertions. Joyce’s jab reappeared in a creditable revival in the second half of the round.
Joyce was doubling up on the jab in the fourth with that fine amateur pedigree coming to the fore. Dubois was marking up badly around the eye with Joyce back in the ascendancy.
After a break for removal of excess water from the canvas, Dubois finally found his jab and detonated successive right hands to have Joyce reeling in the fifth. Now ‘Dynamite’ was on the front foot and driving Joyce back in a dominant round.
Yet Dubois’ left eye was worsening by the sixth. There was a sense of urgency in Dubois’ work as that damage escalated. He had the heavier hands, but Joyce’s jab was causing major problems and thus far he was taking the younger man’s best shots.
The industry of Joyce was trumping the power of Dubois. ‘Dynamite’ was back landing huge shots in the seventh, but the doughty Joyce remained vertical. They traded evenly in the eighth as the fight hung in the balance.
Joyce’s workrate was catching the eye (literally) by the ninth and he pumped a triumphant fist at the end of the round. Surprisingly, Dubois went down from a flush jab, bang in the left eye in the 10th. He was in too much distress to get up and failed to beat referee Ian John Lewis’ count.
In other action, Ilford’s rising 154lbs contender Hamzah Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KOs) ramped up the pressure late to halt game Argentine Guido Nicolas Pitto (26-8-2, 8 KOs) in the 10th and final round.
In the last, Sheeraz hurt Pitto with successive right hands and went for the jugular, pounding the visitor on the ropes before referee John Latham intervened. The Essex hope was coasting to victory against an aggressive opponent before he found his late flourish. A huge 154-pounder, Sheeraz is still only 21 and seems destined to make an impact on a grander stage.
WBO No.1 contender Jack Catterall (26-0, 13 KOs) returned after a year out of the ring to widely outpoint gritty Tunisian Abderrazak Houya (14-3, 2 KOs) over 10 rounds. Referee Victor Loughlin scored 99-90.
Southpaw Catterall, who stepped aside to allow rival super-lightweight champions Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor to unify early in 2021, banked some much-needed rounds, scoring knockdowns in the sixth and ninth rounds.
“I enjoyed that, 10 rounds in the bank. We move to next year and look forward to some big fights,” Catterall told BT Sport. “I’ve been told two possible dates [for Taylor-Ramirez], end of January, beginning of February. I will be at that fight watching. There is an agreement in place to fight the winner within a couple of months, so exciting times.”
Hot heavyweight prospect David Adeleye dropped ‘Big Dawg’ Danny Whitaker (4-0, 2 KOs) twice en route to a second-round stoppage. But despite the Londoner’s dominance there was an element of fortune.
After the second knockdown, Adeleye landed a late uppercut while Whitaker was on the canvas. When referee Mark Lyson admonished Adeleye for the late blow, Whitaker’s corner threw in the towel. Former ABA champion Adeleye moves to 4-0, 4 KOs.
Meanwhile, former British cruiserweight title challenger Jack Massey (17-1, 8 KOs) outpointed Iranian puncher Mohammad Ali Bayat Farid (16-2-1, 16 KOs). Referee Victor Loughlin scored 79-74. The busier Massey boxed cleverly to negate the threat of the visitor who concentrated on landing one big pay-off punch to no avail.
Meanwhile, in off-TV action, featherweight puncher Louie Lynn halted Paul Holt in seven; welter Joshua Frankham won a 40-36 decision over Matt Hall and heavyweight debutant Mitchell Barton shut-out Matt Gordon, also by a score of 40-36.