Following the cancellation of the Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight showdown, a number of pundits are starting to play the blame game. Irrespective of who is at fault for the failure of this fight, both men now have to look ahead to what comes next.
Boxing fans have been robbed of what should have been one of the most entertaining encounters since Fury’s trilogy bouts with Deontay Wilder. A top challenge needs to come along and replace Fury v Usyk, and it may be down to another British fighter to step in.
First Things First
Joe Joyce has been eyeing up a contest with Tyson Fury for some time. After his countryman appeared to have secured a deal with Usyk, Joyce now has a commitment that he cannot swerve.
The feeling is that Joe Joyce should have no issues as he takes on the veteran Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang on April 15. Those that bet on sports will find the British fighter as a hot favourite at odds of just 1/9, while Zhang is very much the underdog at 5/1.
If there were to be an upset, an all-British battle between Fury and Joyce would be less likely. If all goes with those odds and Joe Joyce comes through his unification battle in April, he’ll be a worthy contender to take on the Gypsy King.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Joe Joyce chose to stay in the amateur ring for an extended period of time. The heavyweight competed as a 30-year-old at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, losing out in the final to Tony Yoka via a split decision.
A year later, Joyce finally turned professional at the age of 31. Partly because of that delayed entry into the pro ranks, he had to wait for a chance to claim a shot at a world title. He took on a string of weaker opponents, before earning a clash against Joseph Parker in September 2022.
In a battle to become WBO interim heavyweight champion, Joyce became the first boxer to stop Parker. That win helps the British fighter to boast a perfect record of 15 wins from 15 professional matches. 14 of those 15 victories have come via knockout.
The timing may be against Joe Joyce as he aims to take on Tyson Fury. With Zhei waiting in April, it will be several months before a Fury v Joyce showdown can take place. Will the Gypsy King be prepared to wait that long, or does he need an earlier fight to fit in with his programme?
Fury would not be short of willing contenders, but can any of them match Joe Joyce in terms of quality? Other reports claim that Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz jr are also in the frame.
Fury v Joshua was intended to be the original battle of Britain prior to AJ’s first loss to Oleksandr Usyk. It would be an interesting encounter, but Joe Joyce is more likely to offer the Gypsy King a genuine challenge.