Joe Joyce’s knockout victory over Joseph Parker puts him as a serious contender for the heavyweight title.
The entire week leading up to the heavyweight clash between Joe Joyce (15-0) & Joseph Parker (30-3), fans and media alike were split down the middle on who would prevail in this battle for the interim WBO title. Some thought that the power of Joyce would be too much, while others felt Parker’s movement, boxing skills, and experience would be more than enough to beat Joyce.
When the bell rang to start the fight, you would have thought that the 37-year-old Joyce was the younger fighter as he was consistently flicking out the left jab while smartly cutting off the ring almost instantaneously. Most of this was probably credited to the veteran Cuban trainer Ismael Salas, who has been in Joyce’s corner the last few months getting him ready for this moment.
For those watching the fight on ESPN+, they may not have been impressed with Joyce as his hand speed looks like it’s in slow motion, and you don’t hear that popping sound when he connects. But as the fight continued, Parker would argue with anyone saying that those Joyce punches were hurting, and it wore him down throughout the fight. Joyce had a good game plan, and that was to keep Parker guessing by changing the levels of his offense throughout the rounds. There were some instances where Joyce would just attack the body, and once Parker’s arms came down, bang, he would hit him with a looping right or left hook.
Joe Joyce is now the interim WBO Champion with his eyes set on the full title next year.
All credit to Parker, who was using his feet and trying to box his way to the scorecards, but that Joyce pressure was different than what he has fought against in the past, and that was the difference maker in this one. After wearing him down, in the 11th round, that’s when Joyce landed a crushing left hook, sending Parker down and putting an end to this one.
Joyce won a ton of fans on Saturday night here in the U.S, as many weren’t too confident that he could win a big fight with his slow hand speed. While Parker isn’t a top-three contender, he once held the heavyweight title, and beating him means something when it comes to credibility. Joyce now has the interim WBO title, which means he will become the mandatory for the heavyweight title in the future, which looks to be next year.
The question now becomes, where does he go from here? Should Joyce take a fight while he awaits his title shot? According to the most recent WBO rankings, some of the names could be the likes of Frank Sanchez, Andy Ruiz, Otto Wallin & Fillip Hrgovic, just to name a few. All those fights are very interesting but have the potential to run into political roadblocks, as Joyce is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions. If I had to guess, it will likely be Wallin who gets the fight against Joyce. Wallin would be very competitive as he gave WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury all that he could handle back in 2019.
Whatever Joyce decides to do, the best thing that could have happened for his career at this point is what occurred on Saturday night which was a devasting knockout of someone who has never been knocked out. In the sport of boxing, especially in the heavyweight division, knockouts draw attention. With the video of it all over social media, Joyce will become a popular heavyweight in no time. The challenge is always to keep that energy going, so matchmaking will be important for his next fight as he awaits his opportunity at the real gold. Will Joyce become the heavyweight champion in the future? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, he needs to get it going quickly as father time waits for no man.