Joe Joyce’s impressive stoppage of Daniel Dubois moved him into position to fight Oleksandr Usyk for a vacant version of the WBO heavyweight title.
Facing Usyk would afford Joyce a chance to avenge a decision defeat to the unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw in the World Series of Boxing. Another rival hopes Joyce will want an opportunity to atone for what happened in their important amateur fight 4½ years ago.
Undefeated Frenchman Tony Yoka, who beat Joyce by split decision in the super heavyweight final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, “would love” to fight the big Brit as soon as possible.
“I will beat him,” Yoka told BoxingScene.com. “When we were amateurs, I fought him three times. The first time I fought him, I wasn’t training. He beat me and I didn’t know the tactic to beat him. And then I started thinking a little bit. I saw him in training camp, and when I found it, I said, ‘This guy will beat everyone in the world except me.’ And then in the World Championships he beat everybody except me. Then we went to the Olympic Games, and he did the same – he beat everybody except me. So, I’m not afraid of Joe Joyce.”
The 6-feet-7, 245-pound Yoka hasn’t faced anyone as dangerous as Joyce since the Olympic gold medalist made his pro debut in June 2017. The 28-year-old Yoka (10-0, 8 KOs) stopped Belgium’s Joel Djeko (17-3-1, 8 KOs) in the 12th round Friday night at H Arena in Nantes, France.
The 6-feet-6, 259-pound Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs) battered Dubois with his hard jab throughout their fight November 28 at Church House in London. Dubois (15-1, 14 KOs), whose left eye was swollen shut, took a knee in the 10th round and declined to continue in their scheduled 12-rounder.
“I know he’s really committed to boxing,” Yoka said of Joyce. “He’s working a lot. I like the way he is dedicated to his sport. I’m blessed in boxing. I’m born into boxing, and I’m just 28 years old. He’s 35. So, there is no way he’s gonna beat me if we fight as pros. I’m training with Virgil Hunter, and I’m so confident about the way I can knock him out.”
Yoka’s confidence notwithstanding, Joyce’s showing against Dubois impressed him.
“It was a great performance,” Yoka said. “Everybody was shocked. Dubois is a really good boxer. He’s young and he’s dedicated, but Dubois didn’t fight nobody before Joe Joyce, and the step was too big for him. Joe Joyce is not fast at all, but what he’s doing, he’s doing it well. How can you take a jab from Joyce for 10 rounds? You or your coach, you have to change something. Joe Joyce didn’t even have to bring his right hand. I wasn’t surprised by the result, but it was a great fight for Joe Joyce.”
Win or lose versus Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) in their WBO interim championship match, Yoka is sure Joyce will want to fight him at some point in the foreseeable future.
“I know he wanna fight me,” said Yoka, who is ranked eighth by the IBF and 13th by the WBC. “We’ve been talking. He’s been saying it in the English press. Now it’s just a matter of opportunities and time. … He wanna beat me because of the final in the Olympics.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.