With the biggest test of his career looming overhead, Joe Joyce first has to take care of present-day business.
The unbeaten rising heavyweight is set for his first fight in more than a year as he faces Michael Wallisch in a 10-round battle. Their clash tops a five-fight telecast airing live Saturday on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and streaming live on ESPN+ (2:00pm ET) in the United States from a closed-to-the-public BT Sport Studio lot in Stratford, East London, England.
Joyce distributed a career heaviest 270 pounds across his 6’6” frame during Friday’s official weigh-in. Wallisch weighed 261 pounds - also a career-high - for his third career fight outside of his native Germany.
The bout ends a 54-week ring hiatus for the Joyce (10-0, 9KOs), who captured a whose last fight saw him go the distance for the first time in his promising career. It came in a 12-round win over former title challenger Bryant Jennings (24-4, 14KOs), which saw the undefeated 34-year old Londoner—who captured a Silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics fend off a stiff challenge to take a competitive but clear unanimous decision.
Wallisch (20-3, 13KOs) is in search of his first road win. His previous two occasions also came versus unbeaten heavyweights with Olympic pedigree.
The 34-year old from Munich, Germany suffered a 2nd round knockout at the hands of 2016 Nigerian Olympian Efe Ajagba (13-0, 11KOs; 9-0 at the time) last April. A confidence restoring win at home last July set up his most recent bout, when Wallisch was stopped in three rounds last September by Tony Yoka (7-0, 6KOs), who honored his native France with a Gold medal win over Joyce in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
A win on Saturday will position Joyce for a mouthwatering showdown versus fellow unbeaten British heavyweight Daniel Dubois (14-0, 13KOs), with their bout due to take place later this October. Dubois has a stay-busy fight of his own as he faces Hamburg-based Erik Pfiefer (7-0, 5KOs), a promotional stablemate of Wallisch as both fight under Erol Ceylan’s EC Boxing banner.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox