Unbeaten heavyweight contender Joe Joyce (12-0, 11KOs) has revealed that the negotiations for a showdown with amateur rival Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13KOs) are going very well.
Ukraine's Usyk, the mandatory challenger to the WBO title, is expected to meet Putney's Joyce, who holds the number two position in the WBO's rankings. Their contest would involve the WBO's interim title.
The victor would be guaranteed a crack at the winner of the full division unification between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua - which may land in May or June if finalised.
The two sides are in talks for a date in April, updated Joyce, “Yes, it’s going as planned so it seems… the winner will get the WBO. It’s looking like April. The negotiations seem to be going well and it looks like the fight is going nicely and it’s almost confirmed. I can’t wait. Back in the gym, getting ready. I think I’m going to go for the knockout, the stoppage. I’m going to stop his feet," Joyce told BT Sport, according to SunSport.
“I’m going to have to be smart and switched on not to take too many shots back. I want to stop his feet by any means necessary but also listen to my corner and all the things I’ve been doing inside the gym. Do all the hard work in the gym so it’s easy by the time I get to the fight.”
Joyce faced Usyk eight years ago in the World Series of Boxing - when the two boxers were still amateurs.
In that closely fought fight, Usyk walked away with a tight decision win.
But Joyce feels confident in his improvements as a pro - and he believes Usyk is no longer the same fighter who unified the entire cruiserweight division.
“I’ve learned a lot since then and he’s bulked up in size a bit. Maybe he lost a little speed, so I’ve kind of caught up with him, and I hope to take over him in this next fight," Joyce said.
“I got a lot of experience in the WSB. Yeah, I hadn’t really fought a southpaw as good as him. It was a really tough fight. It was a good learning fight for me as well because his skills were next level. This whole camp will be focused on fighting him, so I’ll be getting the sparring and the tactics. I’ll be working on stuff just for him. Also, the pro gloves and the power shots that I’ve picked up over the years. I’ll have the power to stop him. I just need to catch up to him, cut off the ring on him, and don’t let him move around too much and take it away from him. He’s going to be a tough person to catch to land a shot, but very skilful. Hit him on the nose, the body, the head.”
35-year-old 'Juggernaut' collected five titles in his last fight with British rival Dubois - British; European; Commonwealth; WBC Silver; and WBO International titles.
He stopped his stablemate in the 10th round by sticking to a disciplined game plan with patience and accurate jabs that smashed the left eye socket of Dubois.
A rematch in the professional code between these two heavyweights will be one of the most intruiging matches in recent times, and one that will have fight fans divided on who will prevail.
Check back for more news on Joyce-Usyk as it unfolds