Every now and again, a fighter comes along that seems to be impossible to shift. In the heavyweight division there was George Chuvalo and Randall “Tex” Cobb, men who seemed to stay standing no matter how hard they were hit. Joe Joyce seems to fit that profile.

On Saturday night, at Wembley Arena, Joyce returns to the ring after an absence of nearly a year to face Christian Hammer. Joyce is the WBO’s No 1 contender and, in these circumstances, any fight could be seen as a risk. However, it is hard to imagine how Hammer can win, because even if he does land a lucky punch, the chances are it will just bounce off Joyce’s head.

“I’d prefer not to rely on my chin,” Joyce said. “I’d prefer to block the punches or slip them and counter them. People catch me with punches and I seem to walk through them.”

That was most notable in his last fight against Carlos Takam. The Cameroonian came after Takam swinging hard and landed clean punch after clean punch. But he could not move Joyce.

“Those punches didn’t hurt that much,” Joyce said. “He didn’t punch as hard as [Daniel] Dubois. I remember feeling my face after the adrenaline had worn off, I could feel the lumps and aches.

“Takam can hit – he’s a proper heavyweight – but he wasn’t as devastating as Dubois. I was just trying to work him out and time him and when I landed that punch in the first minute of the sixth round, then I just went to work. I wasn’t stopping until I got him out of there.

“Before that Bermane Stiverne hit me with my best shot and I walked through that.”

Joyce was actually stopped twice in the amateurs, both in 2013, by Sergey Kuzmin at the European Championships and Hamza Beguerni at the World Championships. The two first-round losses led to fears at the time that he might have been chinny, but it was more a case of being caught cold.

“I remember back in the European Championships I was caught cold,” he said. “They were supposed to be two bouts before me, but they just said you are on so I was literally jogging to the ring without warming up. I was caught, went down, and I was caught again and went down again.”

It has been a frustrating year for Joyce, who was made to sit around in case he might get the call for a vacant WBO or interim title fight, while he also missed a potential outing through injury.

Hammer is a replacement for Joseph Parker, who scuppered a fight between the pair by signing a deal with Boxxer to appear on Sky Sports, much to the annoyance of Joyce’s promoter Frank Warren. Hammer is something of a gatekeeper, although he is rarely stopped. It is difficult to make a case for how he could win, though.

Still a training camp in Las Vegas is no waste for Joyce, however.

“Ismael Salas is working on my skills and technique,” he said. “What I love about boxing is that you continue to work on things and get better, so it always stays fresh.

“I don’t want to jinx it, but this keeps me ready for when I get my shot at the title.”

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.