From Team GB To The Ring: Can Joyce Make An Impact?

Tom Kershaw

On October 20, 2016 Olympic Super-Heavyweight Silver medallist, Joe Joyce, will make his long-awaited professional debut, at the Indigo O2 Arena. The Great British boxer is plunging into the pro ranks with a particularly tough ten-round debut against veteran contender, Ian Lewison. However, already at 31, can Joyce flourish in boxing’s most illustrious division?

Hailed as the marquee signing to David Haye’s new promotional venture with Richard Schaefer, Joyce, a surprisingly soft-spoken fine arts major, has exhibited elite intentions, by accepting the extremely challenging debut. The announcement came after the eternally starlight hugging Haye had promised big news for fight fans, but the card, on free-to-air, Dave, was met with a decidedly anti-climactic response.

Once a much eulogised heavyweight talent, Joyce, a greatly distinguished amateur, has somewhat languished in Anthony Joshua’s ever-sprawling shadow. He boasts a wealth of experience, but with more miles on the clock than a Mercury Maquis, there’s a reason that the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren overlooked the amateur standout.

He’s somewhat of a ready-meal for the pro ranks. He brings with him a number of advantages, in particular his wealth of experience and strenuously learned discipline from the rigorous GB setup; meaning he’ll need little in the way of learning fights. However, he also brings with him a number of ingrained technical flaws. His brawlerish yet cumbersome style and often inept defence, is one that’s more suited to a gladiatorial massacre than the noble art of pugilism’s greatest saying, ‘hit and don’t get hit’. Joyce’s career will certainly have a limited sell-by-date.

When Joyce took on Oleksandr Usyk, now the WBO Cruiserweight World Champion, Usyk majestically pirouetted his way around the Brit, teeing off with relative ease. Already at 31, the potential to improve and adapt his style is extremely limited, despite now working with world-renowned coach, Ismael Salas. His doubters do have their credence.

Joyce’s key advantage is his unquestionable level of experience. He’s capably sparred numerous rounds with the world’s top heavyweights and he won’t want to waste any time in what’s likely to be a short-lived heavyweight career. Therefore a high-profile debut against Lewison, is an ideal first step for the challenger.

Lewison, a veteran British heavyweight, once boasted exciting promise. However, a perennial lack of dedication to the sport frequently saw his progress stumble. Last time out, he succumbed to a gruelling defeat against Dillian Whyte, in the ‘Battle of Brixton’, where his fitness, or lack thereof, left him exposed, despite being a competent technician.

It’s a decidedly difficult debut for Joyce but one that he’ll still be unanimously expected to win. However, when he does step up to the elite level, his defence can’t be left wanting. Blessed with an unbreakable granite chin, even with a diamond encrustation, taking bulldozer punches from the likes of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder would have catastrophic consequences. Joyce will certainly make that step up, but whether he’s habituated his one-dimensional style remains to be seen.

Despite David Haye’s egregious claims that Joyce will be the best heavyweight on the planet, the jury is still out for now.

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