THE fifth day of the World championships in Doha, Qatar proved nerve-wracking for followers of British boxing. GB had four men in the quarter-finals, only for three to drop out of the tournament, two of them on the finest of margins. British flyweight Muhammad Ali advanced on Azerbaijan’s Elvin Mamashizada, landed jabs but the first round was scored against him. Then, to compound his misery, he was stopped on a cut. Joe Cordina was a round away from reaching the semi-finals and staying in contention for Olympic qualification, but he lost the decision to Brazil’s Robson Conceicao. Morocco’s Mohammed Rabii won well against welterweight Josh Kelly and at a stroke GB had only one hope of getting a medal out of this tournament. That hope was Joe Joyce.
The super-heavyweight delivered, beating Turkey’s Ali Demirezen, a scrappy but vital victory. Joyce is guaranteed at least a bronze medal, but needs a gold here to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The pressure on that quarter-final was acute but Joe, speaking to Boxing News straight after the win, insisted he took it in his stride. “I fought him before in Turkey [in 2013]. He beat me on points. It was good to get my revenge,” Joyce said. “Because I’m quite a laidback person I can kind of block it out, be neutral going in, focus on my gameplan and be sure I’m tip top, ready to go.
“It’s tough to see your team-mates not get what they’re striving for. But boxing’s an individual sport so you need to focus on what you need to do and your hopes for the future.”
Joyce’s semi-final will be against France’s Tony Yoka on Monday (October 12).