Londoner Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce came in as the underdog but left the Church House, Westminster ring with the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles on Saturday night (28th).
The 2016 Rio Olympic super-heavyweight silver medalist’s performance in defeating fellow Londoner ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois by tenth round knockout was exceptional. Working behind a strong and repetitive left jab he came through difficult moments to bludgeon his way to the titles.
In what was a very even fight going into the tenth, with the 35 year old man from Putney marginally ahead, he capitalised on the closed and badly swollen left eye of Dubois within the opening 30 seconds, dropping and stopping his opponent.
In the early rounds the contest was ‘nip and tuck’ with the heavier handed Dubois landing solid right hands on Joyce, but as he’s done throughout his long amateur and short professional career the new champion simply walked through them.
From the fourth round Dubois’ left eye had marked up and was starting to close. He was returning to his corner round after round looking the more despondent of the two but was still having successful rounds. Martin Bowers his chief cornerman was trying desperately to pump his man up but as the rounds progressed Dubois’ body language was becoming more resigned. Conversely, the Joyce corner despite the absence of his COVID positive main trainer, was a picture of composure.
Dubois was bombed early in the tenth on his closed left eye, taking a knee and although looking as though he would rise before the count whilst he propped himself off the canvas, eventually chose to rise a split second after the count of ten. Star referee Ian John-Lewis had no option but to wave the contest over.
The victory was Joyce’s come out performance as he announced his intention to win the WBO world heavyweight title currently held by Anthony Joshua.
In the BT Sport post-fight interview the new multiple champion acknowledged the effort his game opponent had put in and having to come through some big bombs “I was just glad it was over…I’ve felt power like that before (pointing to his elite amateur career)…I’m blessed with a good chin”. Explaining his game plan he said “I tried not to set too close…because he lets them go”.
The 23 year old Dubois, questioned on the stoppage explained “He caught me with a good jab…I couldn’t see out the eye…it just happens”. He continued “I’ve been hit harder…it was the positioning on the eye”. On his failed strategy he said “I was trigger happy, I need to be smarter”.
The nature of Dubois’ ‘surrender’ received some criticism from the BT Sport pundits, in particular former double world champion Carl Frampton. Whilst his and fellow pundit David Haye’s comments are to be respected, the following day it was revealed the Greenwich man had received a fractured orbital socket. This should give some context to his apparent unwillingness to continue after appearing to recover from the count and given his relatively young age and inexperience. The ‘hardest game’ can sometimes be the ‘harshest’ game when a fighter’s courage is brought into question.
Dubois (15-1-0, 14 KO’s) will now have to re-group and has plenty of time to build from this setback. Success in his first comeback fight though will be critical to his future progression at elite level.
Meanwhile the victor Joyce (12-0, 11 KO’s) called out mandatory WBO world title contender Oleksandr Usyk. It’s likely Joyce will get an opportunity to fight for a vacant title if Anthony Joshua fails to accept his Usyk mandatory commitment. This will give the Putney man an opportunity to avenge a unanimous points defeat to Usyk in the amateur World Boxing Series back in 2013. This time it should be more competitive and by then hopefully better attended.
Chief support on Saturday was a very impressive performance from British super-welterweight Hamzah Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KO’s) against tough Argentinian Guido Nicolas Pitto (26-8-2, 8 KO’s). Sheeraz boxed beautifully throughout showing good patience as he drew the sting out of the game but limited Pitto. He calmly stopped his man in the tenth when the referee stepped in to save Pitto from receiving further punishment after Sheeraz moved through the gears.
BT Sport pundits waxed lyrical on Sheeraz post-fight with Carl Frampton referring to him as the best prospect in British boxing. It was easy to see why on this performance as Sheeraz successfully defended his WBO European belt.
The highlight of the weekend stateside was the much hyped ten round exhibition between Hall of Famer’s ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr. To the surprise of many, in particular this publication, the heavyweight contest proved to be very entertaining and competitive. There were no knockdowns and some of the old fire and skills came out over the two minute rounds.
Popular consensus was that Tyson had won the contest but it was scored a draw by a trio of ex-fighters judging the bout. Both legends finished the contest with great credit and spoke of future exhibitions. Hopefully we can take this event for what it was, good entertainment, and cherish it as their ‘final harrah’. We fear this may not though be the case.