Everything you need to know about Britain's Olympic bronze medallist and world heavyweight title contender Joe Joyce.
|19th September, 1985
|London, United Kingdom
|15-1 (14 KOs)
|Zhilei Zhang (Saturday 23rd September, 2023)
Joyce’s distinguished amateur career culminated in him winning bronze in the super-heavyweight division at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finding himself on the wrong end of a controversial decision in the final, against Tony Yoka.
The following year, Joyce joined the professional ranks. While most debutants face journeymen whose sole aim is to hear the final bell after four rounds, ‘The Juggernaut’ took on Ian Lewison, in a scheduled 10-round bout. Lewison was a capable fighter, who had challenged Dillian Whyte for the vacant British title 12 months previous. ‘Lay ‘em out’ had gone 10 rounds against Whyte, but was halted in the eighth frame by the former amateur standout.
In just his fourth fight, Joyce captured the Commonwealth strap, stopping Lenroy Thomas in the second stanza.
In 2019, Joyce established himself as a threat to the established names of the division with a trio of wins over fighters who had competed at world title level.
In February, ‘The Juggernaut’ claimed the WBA ‘Gold’ belt with a sixth-round victory over Bermane Stiverne. The American was a former world champion, who had been the first man to take Deontay Wilder the scheduled distance, but he was unable to deal with Joyce’s relentless pressure and thudding shots. Stiverne may have been past his best, but the manner of victory was impressive none the less.
Three months later, Joyce stopped, Russian giant, Aleksandr Ustinov, inside nine minutes. Ustinov had previously challenged for the WBA ‘Regular’ belt in a losing effort, against Mahmoud Charr.
Following on from that success, the Olympian took on Bryant Jennings. The former world title challenger proved to be a stern test, as he became the first, and to date only, fighter to hear the final bell against Joyce. While the knockout eluded him, Joyce proved he was ready for bigger tests.
In November 2020, Joyce faced, domestic rival, Daniel Dubois with the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles on the line.
At the time, Dubois was 15-0 and had stopped 14 of his opponents. Many observers believed that ‘Dynamite’ would exploit Joyce’s lack of speed and head movement.
However, ‘The Juggernaut’ made a mockery of his underdog status with a masterful display.
Joyce utilised his jab more than he done previously as a professional and his compatriot simply had no answer for it. It was that shot that stopped his rival in 10th round, as Dubois sustained a broken orbital bone.
After showing he possessed greater boxing ability than his detractors gave him credit for against Dubois, Joyce returned to his more familiar style, eight months later, when he fought Carlos Takam.
Joyce was there to be hit and the former world title challenger did just that, but Joyce withstood everything thrown at him to stop Takam earlier than Anthony Joshua, Dereck Chisora or Alexander Povetkin had managed.
The Englishman then kept his world title hopes alive with a fourth-round stoppage win over Christian Hammer. As was the case against Takam, Joyce’s defences were porous as the visitor was able to land hard single shots, but they were not enough to deter the forward march of ‘The Juggernaut.’
In September 2023, Joyce won the WBO ‘Interim’ championship, becoming mandatory challenger for unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk in the process, with an impressive victory over Joseph Parker.
The fight had been expected to be a war, as Parker had looked rejuvenated when beating Chisora for a second time, the previous year. Instead, it was one sided as the New Zealander was unable to keep Joyce at bay, before eventually being halted in the 11th frame.
While most mandatory challengers bide their time waiting for their world title shot, Joyce opted to take on a dangerous assignment, in the form of Zheili Zhang, ahead of a crack at Oleksandr Usyk.
‘Big Bang’ was coming off a disputed defeat to, 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medallist, Filip Hrgovic and it was an opportunity for Joyce to make a statement.
Instead, the London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist took advantage of Joyce’s deficiencies, namely a lack of head movement.
The away fighter was able to land his southpaw jab and left hook at will, obliging the referee to halt the fight in sixth round. A devastating blow to the British fighter's world title aspirations...
Joe Joyce will go in search of revenge as he takes on Zhilei Zhang, on September 23, at Wembley Arena, London.
The pair first met in February, when the Chinese fighter upset the odds to halt ‘The Juggernaut’ in the sixth round to become the WBO ‘Interim’ champion.
With a future world title shot at stake, the Englishman will be determined to avenge the only defeat of his professional career.
Joe Joyce's net worth is estimated to be around £3.2 million, although that tally will be boosted following his upcoming bout with Zhilei Zhang.
Joe Joyce fights exclusively on TNT Sports - previously BT Sports.
‘The Juggernaut’s’ fight against Chinese powerhouse Zhang will be shown live on TNT Sports on Saturday 23rd September.
Ismael Salas, the vastly experienced Cuban trainer, currently trains Joe Joyce. Salas has previously worked with the likes of David Haye and Jorge Linares, and was named the WBA Trainer of the year in 1996.