WITH an Olympic silver medal and five straight knockout wins as a pro, it was only a matter of time before undefeated heavyweight Joe Joyce attracted the attention of big players in America.
Frankly, it didn’t take long. First, Joyce relocated to Big Bear, California to hook up with Abel Sanchez, a man best known for his work with Gennady Golovkin, and today Joyce announced a partnership with Al Haymon, as powerful as any man in the sport.
“I am delighted to announce my management company, S-Jam Boxing, and I have teamed up with Al Haymon,” he wrote on social media. “I am excited to now have Al advising me in my career. My US debut will be announced imminently… The Juggernaut is coming!”
So far, Joyce has hardly put a foot wrong as a pro. He has won five fights on the bounce, taken the Commonwealth heavyweight title from Lenroy Thomas, and called out the following: Dereck Chisora, Jarrell Miller and Dillian Whyte.
We’ve been aware of of Joyce’s ambition and intent for some time now, but in the last few weeks, thanks to hook-ups with Sanchez and Haymon, the Londoner has put any remaining scepticism to bed. He clearly means it all: the punches, the call-outs, the desire to be fast-tracked.
‘The Juggernaut’ means business.
While Joe Joyce thrives as a professional, the man who controversially beat him at the 2016 Olympics, France’s Tony Yoka, has had his career put on hold until next summer.
About time, too.
The 26-year-old was originally given a suspended two-year ban (reduced to a one-year ban) for failing to notify the authorities of his whereabouts for random drug-testing. He was, however, able to compete while appealing the ban.
This meant Yoka was free to box Britain’s Dave Allen on June 23, a fight he won inside 10 rounds, and would have continued unabated had a judge not reinforced the suspension and issued a ban until summer 2019.
“The casualness of the behaviour of Mr Yoka, who, as an experienced sportsman, is particularly informed of the importance of doping tests and couldn’t be unaware from the first warning of the consequences of his carelessness, doesn’t allow us to seriously consider that the one-year suspension would be disproportionate,” said the judge at Yoka’s hearing.
The stop-start nature of Tony Yoka’s pro career is neither here nor there. All his own doing, if a big-money rematch with Joe Joyce – undoubtedly a natural one in the pro ranks – fails to materialise, it won’t be due to Joyce’s behaviour, that’s for sure.
Of far greater concern is the fact Yoka was allowed to box Dave Allen just seven weeks ago, at a time when rumours of performance-enhancing drugs continued to swirl.
“The Yoka drug thing put me off massively,” Allen recently told Boxing News. “I’ve never been in the ring with a man that strong and fit. I’ve sparred some of the greatest heavyweights of the last 20 years and boxed some really good one and Tony Yoka was a million times fitter and stronger than all of them.
“That made me wonder, what the f**k was going on? It sickened me a bit. He made Anthony Joshua seem like a light-heavyweight. He was that strong.
“Everyone told me he couldn’t punch in the amateurs, but he was hitting me and I was thinking, are they mad?”