AFTER sparring ‘approximately 30 rounds’ with Joe Joyce at Big Bear in California, Tyson Fury – training for his impending shot at WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder – left the high-altitude gym to continue his camp at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles.
There were some rumours that Joyce had given Fury problems, even dropped him. There were others that the 2016 Olympic silver medallist was simply not equipped to give his countryman the kind of workout required.
This week, Team Fury stated that the plan was always to spend only two weeks at Big Bear where Londoner Joyce, who takes on Joe Hanks on this weekend’s Wilder-Fury undercard, trains full-time under Abel Sanchez.
“It was good competitive spars,” Joyce told Boxing News. “I didn’t get knocked out, Tyson didn’t get knocked out. Big Bear is a tough place to train, you have to be a certain kind of person because it’s a tough place to train and there’s not really much going on. There’s also the altitude so it does take a good few weeks to get acclimatised to the altitude.
“Maybe if he had stayed an extra week he would have got used to it a bit more. What I do, when I’m up there, I stay there from Monday to Saturday and then come down to Los Angeles for a couple of days just to break it up. There’s really nothing to do there, it’s quite good to come back to reality on the weekends to break it up.
“If Tyson had come back for the weekends, maybe he [would have stayed in camp longer].
“I guess it set him up. Once you have handled that toughness of the altitude, once you go back down the hill you can do more rounds. I think maybe he wanted to spike his fitness, maybe that was his plan all along.”
Despite relocating in the USA, Joyce’s own plan remains a fight with another spar mate, Anthony Joshua, in 2020. First, Joyce wants to establish himself in America and judging by the interest in him in Los Angeles, people are starting to take notice. The first step is defeating former prospect Hanks, 35, on Saturday night.
“There’s not that many good heavyweights in the US so I want to capture that market,” Joyce explained. “My next fight next year can be in the UK, there are options there. But I’m not doing too badly am I? I’m fighting on one of the biggest cards out here, I could be in York Hall.
“I’m taking steps, I’m going with the flow. Hopefully soon it will be my name topping the bill.
“I think by next year I should be doing big things and, maybe 2020, I will be fighting for the world title.
“I would like to at least have a title before fighting Joshua so at least I have a bigger bargaining chip. I don’t want to go into that fight just being the ‘opponent’.”
Joyce was trained by Cuban Ismael Salas when he turned professional in 2017 but has seen his game improve since joining Sanchez, who also trains Gennady Golovkin, in the summer.
“Ismael Salas changed my style, he really helped me,” Joyce explained. “Since moving to Abel [Sanchez] I have picked up on the training stuff that Golovkin does and throw those nice angular hooks. I think staying up in Big Bear has taught me how to discipline myself and knuckle down with no distractions.
“I’m used to it [being away from home]. When I was with GB I’d be training in Sheffield and then come home at weekends. I like it at Big Bear, there’s so much fresh air and clear skies, it’s always sunny.”
Joyce is certain he will beat Hanks this weekend but is not so sure about Fury against Wilder.
“He’s got his fitness back and he’s got a new team in with Ben Davison,” Joyce told Boxing Scene. “It was world class sparring and he did some good rounds with me and Guido Vianello. We were both taking it in turns to spar Tyson.
“He doesn’t wear a head guard in sparring, he’s got such head movement and angles, he switch hits, it’s really top level sparring. It’s very competitive spars with me and Tyson, or me and Guido, or Guido and Tyson.
“Since then he went down to the Wild Card gym and he’s based himself there. He was sparring Jonathan Rice who’s a good strong fighter and also Lawrence Okolie, my former GB teammate, who has the same kind of physique as Wilder, unpredictable, kind of raw style. He’s had some great preparation so we should see the best of Tyson Fury.
“I hope he does win. I think it’s going to be a tough one, but I don’t know who’s going to win.”