NOT SO LONG AGO, in September of last year, many boxing-watchers were confidently predicting that Joe Joyce would become an unstoppable force in the heavyweight division following his showreel KO of Joseph Parker in Manchester.
Fast forward to the present day and a lot of those same people are stating that the Big Juggernaut should be parked up for good.
This is the boxing world we live in.
Joe was put to the canvas for the first time courtesy of a howitzer of a shot from Zhilei Zhang, who more than lived up to his nickname of Big Bang on Saturday at Wembley.
Joe wanted to and attempted to win back his valuable WBO Interim title bargaining chip from Zhilei following a first career setback in the original fight. Sequels don’t always work out and, sometimes, certain opponents simply have your number.
In my book, Joe has unfortunately just encountered his nemesis, his fistic kryptonite, a southpaw code he was unable to crack.
There is a tendency in this sport to make sweeping statements or knee-jerk reactions when a fighter, plain and simple, comes off second best.
Joe hasn’t, all of a sudden, become shot to bits, as some would have you believe. Pre-Zhang, people were hailing his ability to walk through fire. Now, apparently, it has signaled his demise.
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes – in whatever sport – you just come up against someone you can’t beat.
Joe and his team are smart and honest people. He and they will know when his time is up. In the meantime, as his promotional backers, we will do our job, support him and bring him back when he is ready.
I said beforehand that the loser was facing a long-ish and windy road back towards mandatory position for a world title opportunity and, in the current state of play, this is the case.
However, in the heavyweight division, you are only one big win away from being back involved in highly-lucrative fights. Also, the heavyweight titles could end up being completely unified early next year and ultimately this usually results in them quickly becoming fragmented again.
If this happens then Joe would be firmly back in the picture with a good win under his belt.
I’ve also been made aware of a few post-fight comments on social media alleging a promotional switching of sides.
Let’s be clear about this. Zhilei Zhang is a Queensberry fighter and this has been the case from before the first fight and will continue into the future.
We have always been prepared to match our fighters up because our job is to make fights. In all sports there are winners and losers and, in cases such as this, we then deal with both outcomes and work out a way forward.
Joe, like all fighters following a career setback, will rightly take some time out and consider all his options. Then, as soon as he gives us the nod, we will figure out the most appropriate route to bring him back and push him forward again.
In the case of Zhilei, our immediate task is to ensure he is in world title action at the earliest opportunity.
We will do our utmost for both and that is how, for us, it works in this business.
The undercard on Saturday was hit by a couple of late pull-outs, but the fans at Wembley still got to see some of our top-notch talents and quality fights.
It was no secret that the intention for Anthony Yarde was just to get him back in following his incredible exploits against Artur Beterbiev at the end of January. He had an opponent change but he put a tick in his win column and prepared the ground for a major fight next. This was the objective.
Zach Parker was another on a comeback trail after a severe injury and I was particularly impressed with him. He showed us something different in what was a bright performance against an opponent famed for his stubbornness and durability.
Pierce O’Leary was in a proper scrap against a strong opponent in Kane Gardner, while two of our most elite young talents – Royston Barney-Smith and Moses Itauma – gave us a glimpse of why they represent the bright future of boxing in this country.
We are about the building and development of young fighters and sometimes I hear criticism about the learning process being showcased on television.
When you are plotting a career path for 18-year-old fighters with a huge future, you use your experience in the sport to give them the right opponents to move them forward correctly. You don’t just sling them in.
It is not the same as matching an Olympian when they join the professional ranks. Many of these are over 26 and some are knocking 30, with huge experience already behind them.
For the most part, we start our young fighters off from scratch with many still in their teens. We give them the opportunity to perform and grow on a major platform so fans can get behind them and watch their whole career unfold.
We are not going to hide them away and keep them secret, as it would seem some would prefer us to do.
By the time the likes of Royston and Moses have travelled further around the learning curve, everyone will know who they are and this is how it should be.
And no cheap shots from any uninformed podcasts – who don’t even specialize in boxing – will detract us from doing what we do best.