Joe Joyce has been accused of being “presumptuous” by his opponent ahead of his pro debut on Friday night.
The trade expected the Olympic silver medallist to be matched tough on his debut – but the match with Ian Lewison at the O2 Indigo still raised eyebrows.
Lewison is a heavy-handed former Southern Area champion who last time out went 10 hard rounds with Dillian Whyte for the vacant British heavyweight championship.
“It’s presumptuous of them to take this fight,” said the 36 year old South Londoner.
“But they want to push him on and want to take risks with him.
“The only reason I took this fight is because it’s on TV. If it had been a six rounder at the York Hall, I wouldn’t have taken it, but this fight is a top-of-the-bill fight on TV and a platform for me.”
Lewison was lined up to fight Robert Helenius in June – Helenius beat him when they were amateurs – but because of a paperwork issue, the match fell through.
Helenius now fights Whyte on the Anthony Joshua-Kubrat Pulev show in Cardiff next week and, not for the first time in his career, Lewison is left wondering what might have been . . .
“Nothing has gone according to plan for me,” he said. “I turned pro (in 2009) without a promoter, so it’s been an uphill battle from the start. Then there have been injuries, fights falling through . . . “
At times in his pro career, Lewison has appeared under motivated and with a security business and properties, he doesn’t have to fight.
But he has his pride – it kept him on his feet for 10 punishing rounds against Whyte – and doesn’t want to be remembered by casual fans as the fighter beaten by Joyce on his pro debut.
The bright future that now stretches out in front of Joyce once stretched out in front of Lewison.
In his debut season, he ran through everyone to win the ABA Novice title in 1999 – and kept running through everyone until he met David Dolan in the ABA final and was beaten on points.
The late Gary Mason was a mentor at Miguel’s ABC in Brixton – “He was always around giving me advice” – but Lewison says narrow defeats – including a loss to David Price in the ABAs in 2003 – left him “disheartened.
“I was an exciting amateur. I used to come forward throwing bombs, but when you know you’ve won a fight and they give it to the other guy, it leaves you disheartened.”
“I stopped (boxing) for a while.”
Lewison turned pro in 2009 and on his best nights, he’s reached a ‘Prizefighter’ final and thrashed Tom Dallas inside a couple of rounds for the vacant Southern Area belt.
Lewison has seven wins inside two rounds on his 12-3-1 record – and says he’s planning to start fast against Joyce.
“I’m going to put it on him and see how strong and tough he is,” said Lewison.
Joyce was caught cold a couple of times in the amateurs – in the European and World championships in 2013 – but in 16 bouts in World Series of Boxing, only Oleksandr Usyk, now the WBO cruiserweight champion, and Maxim Babanin beat him.
Promoter David Haye obviously feels Joyce has the requisite seasoning to be fast tracked in the pros, but according to Lewison, he’s about to run into a real heavyweight hard man.
“I’m stronger, punch harder and I’m tougher,” said Lewison. “I have the all-round hardness that he doesn’t have.”