Joe Joyce vs. Lenroy Thomas – Analysis & prediction
By Scott Gilfoid: 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist Joe Joyce (3-0, 3 KOs) will be take a step up in class this Saturday night in facing Commonwealth heavyweight champion Lenroy Thomas (22-4-1, 10 KO) in a 12 round fight on Sky Box Office on the undercard of the rematch between Tony Bellew and David Haye at the O2 Arena in London.
Joyce has to not only beat Thomas but look sensational in doing so for his stock not to drop off the side of the cliff with this fight. Thomas has been blown out in the two times he tried stepping up in class against Dominic Breazeale and Andrey Fedosov.
For Joyce to be a contender level fighter, he must destroy Thomas as well. If he struggles to beat him or if he loses, then it’s going be viewed as a major negative as far as his career outlook goes. As such, Joyce is going to need to go after Thomas immediately and start throwing bombs on Saturday night if he wants to get the victory in an impressive fashion. That means no clowning around by just using his left hand like we saw Joyce do in his fight with journeyman In Lewison in his pro debut last October. That looked bad. Joyce was just throwing jabs the entire night and looking slow and limited. In Joyce’s two fights since then, he’s looked a lot better in destroying Rudolf Jozic and Donnie Palmer with right hands in scoring a pair of 1st round stoppages. That’s the way Joyce should have fought Lewison.
This fight wouldn’t be a big deal if not for Thomas’ 12 round split decision win over British domestic level fighter David Allen last year in May 2017. Thomas wasn’t supposed to win that fight, but he did a good job of giving Allen a boxing lesson. In their rematch last March, the fight was halted abruptly by the referee Michael Alexander in the 1st round after Allen suffered a cut from a head-butt. The referee should have at least let Allen make it through the round to see if his corner could stop the bleeding. It’s just as well. Allen would have likely lost the fight anyway, as Thomas has his number.
The 6’6” Joyce will have advantage in punching power in the fight, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll win. Joyce’s slow hand speed will give Thomas a real chance of beating him to the punch. Joyce is going to need to use his jab and move around the ring a lot if he doesn’t want to fall victim to the southpaw Thomas’ left-hand power shots. Joyce likes to mix things up, and I won’t be surprised if he turns southpaw and tries to fight Thomas from that stance to confuse him. It won’t work. If Joyce is going to win this fight, he’s going to need to do it the old-fashioned way by boxing and slugging with Thomas.
Joyce is being moved quickly by his promoter David Haye due to his Olympic experience and his advanced age. Joyce will be turning 33-years-old in September, and he’s almost as old as his 33-year-old opponent Thomas. It’s clear that Joyce has to be moved quickly by his management for him to make the most of what little time he has left before his physical skills began to deteriorate due to his age.
This could be a tricky fight for Joyce. Thomas has the skills to hand Joyce his first loss if he doesn’t jump on him early and try and get him out of there. Thomas was blown out in the past by Andrey Fedosov in 4 rounds in 2015, Dominic Breazeale in 4 rounds in 2013 and Aaron Lyons in 4 rounds in 2010. Thomas has looked a lot better in his last four fights against Grover Young, David Allen and Ed Fountain. Whether that’s a sign that Thomas has improved or not is debatable. Thomas’ opposition hasn’t been good enough to say for certain whether he’s improved to any extent. David Allen is purely a 2nd tier journeyman level guy. Beating Allen doesn’t mean much because he’s little more than a punching bag type of heavyweight, whose claim to fame is his 4th round stoppage win over then 39-year-old Jason Gavern.
Joyce believes he’ll soon be fighting heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte, who is actually younger than him at 29, and rated No.1 by the World Boxing Council. Joyce isn’t promoted by Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, so it’s unlikely the fight with Whyte will happen anytime soon. Whyte is being carefully matched against beatable opposition right now, and Hearn isn’t going to spoil that by putting him in with Joyce and watching him get beaten. Whyte is an okay fighter, but he’s not that good. He’s like this era’s version if Dereck Chisora.
”I sparred him early on, but not recently,” Joyce said to skysports.com about Whyte. ”In a couple of fights [I could fight Dillian]. I’m at that level.”
Joyce could fight Whyte right now and likely beat him if Hearn gave the green light to that fight happening. I don’t think for a second Hearn is going to let Whyte get anywhere near Joyce, because he’s building him up for either a title shot against Matchroom Boxing fighter Anthony Joshua or WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Joyce wants to fight Chisora, but Haye hasn’t been able to get him and Hearn to agree to take the fight. If Joyce starts looking awful, I think that could perk up Chisora and Hearn’s interest and they’ll sign in a heartbeat. Joyce is probably going to destroy Thomas on Saturday, and that’s not going to help him get the fight with Chisora or Whyte.
”Because of my abilities [I would beat him]. I have confidence in my abilities,” Joyce said about Chisora. ”My style, my engine, and my size would be all wrong for him.”
Chisora doesn’t fancy that fight with Joyce. If he did, he would have already agreed to fight him.
I see Joyce going after Thomas with power shots early on and wearing him down until he stops him in the 4th round. Joyce will need to be careful that he doesn’t suffer a cut from Thomas, who has a habit of diving forward in a head first manner when throwing shots. If Joyce gets hit with the crown of Thomas’ head, he could get sliced to ribbons and wind up in the same situation David Allen did in his rematch with the American.