Joe Joyce has been moved wonderfully since turning professional in 2017, following his silver medal the 2016 Olympic Games, and there are no signs of his progress slowing or his ambitions being tempered.
Today, it was announced Joyce’s eighth professional opponent will be Haiti’s Bermane Stiverne, a former WBC world heavyweight champion. The pair will meet on February 23 at the O2 Arena, as part of an ITV Box Office bill topped by the super-middleweight grudge match between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr.
It’s a shrewd next step for Joyce, one that continues to highlight the confidence his backers have in him. Stiverne, after all, has lost only three times in 29 pro fights – two of them at the hands of Deontay Wilder – and is a skilled if small heavyweight with plenty of experience and ring nous. He is now 40, which suggests he has seen his best days, and was last seen being sparked inside a round by Wilder (in 2017), but let’s not forget Joyce, the Boxing News ‘Prospect of the Year’ for 2018, has been a pro for a little over a year. All things considered, it’s a decent bit of matchmaking.
To make things a tad more interesting, the pair have history, having traded words following a sparring session. Stiverne claimed he had taken Joyce to school in said sparring session, a claim the Londoner flatly denied, and a fight between the pair has seemingly been brewing ever since.
“I had respect for Bermane Stiverne,” said the six-foot-six ‘Juggernaut’. “We sparred in Las Vegas; he said he took me to school in an interview, it got ugly and it made this fight happen. I tried to be respectful of him, but he’s rude and was having none of it.
“He is a former world champion that has gone 12 rounds with Deontay Wilder and will give me a real challenge; but my engine and my power will be too much for him.”
Stiverne, of course, quite fancies the idea of boxing a relative novice who had been a pro for only a month when Stiverne was succumbing to Wilder in November 2017. Despite his own inactivity, he believes he will have too much for the 33-year-old Brit.
“I told my promoter Don King to get me any man on Earth and I will fight for the right to prove myself to the world,” he said. “Then the phone rings, it’s Don, and he tells me Joe Joyce – a boxer with only seven bouts – agrees to meet me!
“Seven fights and he has the audacity to box me? I have stopped Chris Arreola, Ray Austin, the then-undefeated Kerston Manswell, and a boxer with seven fights wants to box me?! I say to Don, ‘Sign it, take it, grab it.’ I’m ready.
“For me, it is a dream come true, but for Joyce it will be a nightmare. I will knock out Joe Joyce and step over him to KO Anthony Joshua. I’m primed and ready.
“The real Bermane Stiverne will be there on February 23 and will knock out Joe Joyce en route to regaining my heavyweight crown.”
Fair to say Stiverne’s first prediction is more likely to come true than the second. We know that much.
Carlos Takam and Dereck Chisora now have a lot in common. As well as being former opponents, they also know what it feels like to win a fight only to then walk into something almighty and all of a sudden be looking helplessly up at the lights.
For Chisora, this happened in December against long-time rival Dillian Whyte, when seemingly doing everything right for 10 and a half rounds but then coming unstuck in the 11th. For Takam, however, his big shock arrived last July, when wading into an outgunned opponent for seven and a half rounds before catching something nasty in the eighth. The opponent, of course, was Dereck Chisora.
Which is precisely why Takam wants to do it all again.
“It’s true, I do want revenge,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.
“With all the respect due to Derek, the first fight was an accident. It happens. As we say back home, sometimes even the snake can tumble. If I can fight Derek one more time, it won’t be the same story. I will completely correct what happened.
“They (Chisora and Whyte) put on a great show for the fans but we knew whatever happened, Dillian had more of a chance of winning than Chisora did. I have heard he prepared and trained very well for the rematch with Whyte and he is very disappointed losing it.”
It isn’t just a rematch Takam would like. He would also like to see it take place at England’s national stadium, according to manager Christian Cerchi.
“It makes sense, a rematch with Chisora, because the first one was a great fight,” Cerchi said.
“We are working closely with Matchroom and even if Chisora is working with David Haye now, I am sure they would be interested in this one.
“Wembley Stadium would be perfect. Anthony Joshua is the only one who can do the main event there, so we will have to wait.”
Neither man will want to wait too long. They both know the dangers of not closing the show when the time is right.