How can heavyweight contender Joe Joyce make the most of his fight against Joseph Parker on Saturday at AO Arena in Manchester, England (ESPN+)?
Become the first to stop the former titleholder from New Zealand.
That’s the plan for Joyce (14-0, 13 KOs) in the battle to become the mandatory challenger for Oleksandr Usyk’s WBO belt. The 37-year-old Londoner wants to make a statement in arguably the toughest matchup in his career.
“I’ve been levelling up here and there, taking the strategic routes with good fighters on the way up,” Joyce told PA Media. “Now I’m at the top of the rankings with the WBO and fighting against a great fighter in Joseph Parker. It’s a must-win fight. I plan to win it and I plan to stop him, I don’t want it going to overtime.
“It would be a statement to stop him. Off the back of that I can potentially challenge Usyk or whoever else. There’s plenty of good fights out there.”
Joyce and Parker (30-2, 21 KOs) were expected to meet on July 2 but Parker pulled out at that time. He was replaced by veteran Christian Hammer, who went down four times and failed to make it out of the fourth round in London.
That was Joyce’s first fight in a full year. He took time off to recover from a wrist injury.
“The Hammer fight was great preparation for Parker,” he said. “I got rid of the ring rust so I hit the ground running (for the current training camp). It’s worked out better for me because I’m more prepared.”
If Joyce is successful on Saturday, he believes he’ll be ready to face three-belt champion Usyk in his next fight.
That isn’t likely to happen because Usyk has other plans.
The natural matchup for him is Tyson Fury, who owns the fourth major title. However, Fury is in talks to face Anthony Joshua in December. That news prompted Usyk to suggest he might fight Deontay Wilder, assuming Wilder defeats Robert Helenius on Oct. 15.
Joyce isn’t preoccupied with the jockeying for position in the heavyweight division.
He feels his time will come, although he certainly likes the idea of challenging Usyk. The Ukrainian outpointed Joyce in a five-round bout in the old World Series of Boxing in 2013.
“I’d love to fight Usyk, preferably after Parker,” he said. “I enjoyed the fight in the WSB even though I lost, but over 12 rounds I’d be too much for him. It would be an exciting fight, and I’d love to avenge that defeat.
“But I’m on the way there and I’m patient. I’m in a good place now.”
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