The story of Joe Joyce
By Stefan Radosavljevic: Joe Joyce showed me that I still have much to learn about boxing. It was the summer of 2019. when I first saw this British heavyweight fight as a professional.
A unanimous decision win against Bryant Jennings didn’t impress me at all. His jab looked very slow, and without power, his defense had many flaws. Honestly, I didn’t even watch Joyce’s next fight against Michael Wallisch. I knew he was a silver medalist from Rio, but I never looked at him as championship material.
For me, Joyce was just another decent heavyweight prospect with good amateur results and an excellent PR team around him. And then came the Daniel Dubois fight. Many boxing fans, including me, thought this was the end of the journey for Joyce. Daniel looked explosive and fast, with height and reach that matched Joe’s. It was a 10th round technical knockout of Dubois that made me reconsider my view of the Juggernaut.
The first thing you notice when you look at Joyce is, of course, his size: 6’6 with more than 260 pounds and 81-inch reach. But his physical advantages are easy to see; I will talk about them later. Now, I want to say something about his amateur career. This is a part of Juggernaut’s story that is usually overseen and underestimated. Joe started boxing pretty late, at the age of 22.
In 2012, he won the Great Britain Amateur boxing championship. Next year at the European championship in Minsk, he earned a bronze medal. In 2015. and 2016. Joyce was part of the World Series of boxing, a competition that allowed amateur boxers to compete professionally while maintaining amateur status.
This was a very important experience for Joyce because, at ABA, he faced many talented fighters, including Oleksandr Usyk, the current world heavyweight champion. In the summer of 2016. Joyce won a silver medal at the 31st Olympic games in Rio. Many observers thought that he defeated French fighter Tony Yoka but was robbed of a gold medal.
Next year Joe turned professional. In a relatively short amateur career, he progressed steadily, faced and, many times, defeated the best amateurs of his era.
Now, as I said, more about Juggernaut’s physical abilities. Size and power are there, but also a great chin and probably the best stamina among heavyweights, matched only by Usyk’s unstoppable engine.
What is very interesting to me is that Joyce never tries to be a slick, fast-moving fighter. He is what he is, a Juggernaut, and he uses it to the max. Power in both hands, relentless attacks, height, and reach advantage is used very well in the last couple of bouts against Takam, Hammer, and Parker.
Joyce is also very composed in the ring; I never saw him panic or leave his game plan. He has flaws, too, of course. The biggest one, probably, is that he relies too much on his chin. Sometimes Joe doesn’t move his head at all and gets hit in the face, flash. His iron chin saved him many times, but what if, one day, Deontay Wilder lands? So, when you combine strength with amateur experience, how far can Joyce go?
Judging by his last couple of fights, he has the tools to beat most of the top ten heavyweights. If Joe stays in shape and works on his defense, he could beat Joshua, Wilder, and Ruiz. All three fighters have stamina issues, and it would be extremely hard to keep up with Joe, especially in later rounds.
On the other side, two fighters that are very dangerous for Joyce are Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. Joyce never faced a pure boxer before, and I don’t know how Joe would react to Fury’s awkward style or Usyk’s perfect boxing fundamentals.
Unfortunately, none of these guys is rushing to fight Joe, so it will be very hard for his managers to land a big fight. Whatever happens, I can wait to see Juggernaut fight again, and I thank him for the much-needed boxing lesson.
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