Joe Joyce’s dominant victory over Joseph Parker has left him as the leading contender to challenge unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Joyce knocked Parker out with a hellacious left hook after subjecting the New Zealander to a ferocious 11-round onslaught on Saturday.
That win saw Joyce pick up an interim title from the WBO so he should be able to press eventually for a mandatory shot at Usyk, who holds their full title as well as the IBF and WBA championships.
“If Usyk doesn’t want to fight me then he has to vacate the belt and then I get elevated to full champion. From there, I can defend the belt,” Joyce told Sky Sports News.
“I think I would start to get to him,” Joyce warned, “if I can keep the pressure up. He is a very skilful fighter, but at this level it’s all going to be tough from here on in.”
The two have crossed paths before. When they were amateurs they boxed one another in the World Series of Boxing, a pro-style league, in 2013. Joyce lost on points then but promises a rematch a decade on would be a very different story.
“This time I would be more prepared and have a proper training camp geared towards him. It’s over 12 rounds with smaller gloves and I’ve come a long way since then. It was a long time ago,” he said.
“It takes 10 years to reach sporting excellence. I’ve surpassed that and I’m still learning, so it would be a great fight over 12 rounds.”
Joyce has now proven himself a serious operator for anyone in the weight class. “That was the next jump into the elite bracket. [Parker] is a top fighter, ex world champion, so it was a great victory for me. I think I did a good job and the future is bright – I look forward to the next couple of fights coming up,” Joyce said.
“Lots of credit to Joseph Parker, he is a tough guy. I was hitting him with everything and he was still coming back with three or four punches in between and I had to really push to get the victory.
“I didn’t have to fight Joseph Parker, but it then pushed me up to the next level.”
While he expects Usyk ultimately to be his next opponent, Joyce can now eye all the big names, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte included.
“I just want to be secure as world champion, heavyweight champion and then can go either for more belts or be in bigger fights,” he said.
Fury and Joshua need “less talk, more action” themselves. “They just need to hurry up and just get it on,” he said. “Enough of them, I’ll fight whoever, I’ll fight anyone in the top five and I’m ready and I’m willing to take the toughest test.”
If Fury is going to fight Mahmoud Charr, Joyce would merrily box Joshua.
“Why not? That’s a massive fight, massive stadium fight on British soil or maybe in Saudi – I don’t know, that’s how it seems to be going these days as money talks. It’s a business and it’s entertainment,” he said.
“[Dillian Whyte] would be a great fight. It could be a slug-fest. There’s many ways I could fight him.
“I’ve always wanted to be in this position and now I’m here. I still don’t feel like I’m quite there where I want to be. I think I’ve still got a few more levels and more gears to go through.
“I’m just excited that I’m finally getting the recognition that I deserve.”