Tyson Fury genuinely believed Joseph Parker could beat Joe Joyce on Saturday night.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion openly rooted for Parker while seated ringside near Frank Warren, whose company co-promotes Fury and promotes Joyce. Fury and Parker spent plenty of rounds sparring against each other in recent years and they’ve become close friends.
Well aware of Parker’s toughness and skill level, Fury admits he was very impressed with how Joyce walked through Parker’s punches, wore down the former WBO champion and viciously knocked him out with a left hook that suddenly ended their fight in the 11th round at AO Arena in Manchester, England, Fury’s hometown.
After assessing the rest of their division, Fury determined that Joyce – not Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder – is the second-best heavyweight in the world.
“I’ve had a lovely day of watching boxing, watching all the big fights and studying all the heavyweights,” Fury said in a video that was posted Wednesday to his Instagram and Twitter accounts. “And I’ve gotta say that big Joe Joyce is the second-best heavyweight in the world, behind me self. And on his day, given his moment, who knows if he could beat me or not? I think we’ll have to find out one of the days.
“But I’ve just looked at these prospects [who are] mandatories for the world titles – [Zhang Zhilei] and [Filip Hrgovic] and everybody else – I’ve changed me mind and I think big Joe Joyce is the number two heavyweight in the world. And who knows if he’s number one? One day we’ll have to find out who’s better out of me and him. But at the moment, I’m ruling the roost because I’m world heavyweight champion and he’s not. But he's f------ coming for everybody. Don’t you worry about that. Come on, big Joe!”
The 6-foot-6, 271-pound Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) won the WBO interim championship by beating New Zealand’s Parker (30-3, 21 KOs). The 2016 Olympic silver medalist remains the WBO’s number one contender for one of the four titles owned by Ukraine’s Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs).
As for Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs), the 6-foot-9, 265-pound champion seems determined to defend his WBC belt against Germany’s Mahmoud Charr (33-4, 19 KOs) in his next fight. The unpredictable Fury has publicly stated that the deadline has passed to finalize a much higher-profile fight against Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs), which would’ve taken place December 3 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.