British heavyweight Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce cemented his place high in the world rankings with an emphatic fourth round stoppage of Christian Hammer at the Wembley Arena, London on Saturday.
Joyce (14-0, 13 KO’s) bludgeoned his way to victory despite leaving himself exposed to heavy overhand rights from the German-based Romanian, and sometimes looking devoid of any defensive skills or self preservation. The Londoner has never been the most elusive of fighters and this is compounded by his sometimes robotic style. However, give credit where it’s due, he got his man out of there and emphatically at that.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist dropped Hammer four times en route to victory with sickening body shots before referee Victor Loughlin called a halt to proceedings after 1:20 of the fourth stanza.
Whilst it lasted, Hammer (27-10, 17 KO’s) was game and after gaining early success from heavy overhand rights detonating high on Joyce’s head he took the fight to the Londoner. There were moments in the opening eight minutes where sitting ringside you thought there might be a tremendous upset here, but Joyce dropped Hammer with a left hook to the body before the bell in the third and the Romanian began to unravel. He was up on the count of eight and saved from further punishment by the bell. Whilst Hammer re-grouped between rounds Joyce came out with almost a look of relish to finish the contest scoring further knockdowns.
The 36 year old Londoner remains in pole position for a crack at the fighter who emerges from the Usyk/Joshua/Fury triumvirate. Currently ranked #1 by the WBO he is the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Usyk/Joshua rematch being held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on August 20. The boxing future of Tyson Fury remains uncertain but a return is expected and Joyce is well ranked with the WBC to face him.
Joyce on this showing has the power to win any contest against any of the above should he land his bombs first, but to be victorious the next six months will undoubtedly need to be focused on his defence. His standing is improving with every contest and the key will be to keep him active. Despite his limitations he’s a good watch and the next few years are sure to be entertaining.
Performance of the night was delivered by South African super-bantamweight Zolani Tete who stunningly knocked out Britain’s Jason Cunningham 0:34 secs into the fourth round.
Going in, there were doubts whether Tete, a former double-weight ‘world’ champion, had at 34 seen his best days and after having a lengthy period of activity. However, from the opening bell he was on point, flashing out his quicksilver jab from a southpaw stance and dominating the early exchanges. Cunningham struggled to get any success in the first nine minutes and looked tentative throughout.
The stoppage early in the fourth was sensational with a straight left dropping Cunningham shortly after the opening bell, and although the Englishman was up on the eight count, Tete jumped on him and after a dozen unanswered punches poleaxed him. Cunningham fell heavily to the canvas and referee Howard Foster waved it off immediately. There were a few moments of concern as the loser received extended medical attention and Tete to his credit delayed his celebrations. Cunningham recovered some minutes after and the South African team eventually joined in an emotional victory hug.
The win brings the classy Tete (30-4, 23 KO’s) right back into world title contention. Cunningham drops to 31-7 (7 KO’s).
There were also impressive wins for Portsmouth’s Mark Chamberlain (11-0, 7 KO’s) defeating tough Spaniard Marc Vidal unanimously on points to gain the IBF European lightweight title, plus welterweight Micky Burke Jr, super-lightweight Henry Turner and promising cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher on debut. The Queensberry promoted card was an excellent watch with a number of competitive fights.
Performance of the weekend on the world stage was Australian southpaw Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17 KO’s) winning a unanimous decision against Latvian Mairis Briedis (28-2, 20 KO’s) to gain The Ring magazine and IBF world cruiserweight championship. The Aussie came through a broken jaw in the fight and is now the man to beat at 200lbs.