Promoter Frank Warren sees a lot of chinks in Anthony Joshua’s armor that he believes his client, Joe Joyce, can take advantage of.
Talk of a fight between the British heavyweights has been brewing ever since Joshua, the former unified titlist in the division, hinted that he may take a stay-busy, interim bout as he waits for the Ukraine-Russia conflict to subside. Joshua was scheduled to fight Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine this summer, but it appears that Usyk, who is back home helping defend his people from the Russian invasion, is in no position to participate in a boxing bout anytime soon.
In response, Joshua has floated names such as Deontay Wilder, Otto Wallin, and Joyce as potential opponents for his summer date. The idea would still be to face Usyk later in the year.
Recently, both Joshua and Joyce had a minor spat on social media.
“@anthony joshua you having a meltdown, where’s all your belts?” Joyce fired off on Twitter. “All those sponsorships and endorsements helping? You’re a glass cannon, quit the act, you were given everything. #easymode.”
Joshua answered back drolly, “it took you five days to think of this.”
Legitimate feud or not, the fact is that both fighters are aligned with rival promotional entities, which makes a fight theoretically very difficult to achieve. Joshua is backed by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and Joyce fights under Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions banner. Hearn and Warren famously do not get along with each other and rarely do business together.
Nevertheless, Warren is keen on the fight.
“Listen it’s a good fight,” Warren told IFL TV. “Push all the bulls--- aside, all the politics in sports aside. It’s a good fight. Joe wants it. I don’t know if AJ wants it. But certainly, Joe wants it. Why wouldn’t he want that fight? It’s a great opportunity for him.”
Given the longstanding animus and various competing motivations of the two sides, Warren suggested an auction to settle who gets to promote a Joshua-Joyce bout.
“Put it up on a purse bid, let’s see who wins,” Warren said, in response to Hearn's comment that Warren would overprice himself.
Asked if he would concede that Joyce is the far lesser draw in a Joshua bout, Warren agreed but also noted that Joshua’s commercial profile has diminished in recent years, due to his upset losses in the ring. Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) suffered a seventh-round stoppage to Andy Ruiz in 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and dropped a unanimous decision to Usyk last September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“I’m not gonna say he (Joshua) isn’t [the bigger draw],” Warren said. “Going into his previous fight, he was the bigger draw.”
“His credibility, his stock, has gone down. In the last couple of years, he’s had a couple of performances where he’s looked more than average. Just about average. Certainly, in his last one (Usyk). His stock’s gone down. For me, [we’ll] try and do something, we’ll work a deal out. Whoever puts in the highest bid will put it on. We’ll get behind our man as we always do.”
Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs), who won a silver medal for Britain in the 2016 Summer Olympic games, is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Carlos Takam last July. Prior to that, he notched a career-best victory over countryman Daniel Dubois by stopping him in the 10th round.
Warren believes Joshua’s limitations are no secret and that the lumbering, yet seemingly iron-chinned Joyce could easily spring an upset at this point in time.
“I don’t think anybody in boxing will be better for Joe than AJ,” Warren said. “I fancy Joe to beat him.”
“He’s got a good chin,” Warren said of Joyce. “I think he’s strong. I think AJ’s been exposed. Not once, a couple of occasions [he’s been] exposed. When someone’s got a good chin, that takes away the thing that he’s (Joshua) got going for him, which is his punch. Joe’s got a good jab. I think he will wear him down and I think he will knock him out.”