As the Olympic boxing tournament in Tokyo starts on Saturday, Britain’s Joe Joyce will watch closely as he aims to build on his success of his unbeaten record in his 13th fight as a professional boxer.
Joyce launched his career as a professional after he won silver in the heavyweight division for Team GB in Rio 2016. On Saturday he will take on Cameroon-born, Nevada-based Carlos Takam at Wembley Arena, London.
If Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs), 35, from London, England, beats Takam he will become the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBO belt, meanwhile Takam (39-51, 28 KOs), who Joshua stopped in ten rounds in 2017, has won his last four bouts but is five years older than Joyce.
Joyce is coming off an impressive tenth round knockout over Daniel Dubois — who had won all his 15 fights by KO before the defeat and suffered a broken eye socket and nerve damage as a result of Joyce’s jab. However, Joyce expects former world title challenger Takam to be more demanding than Dubois.
“I imagine so because he’s got that experience, he knows all the little tricks and he’s always in good shape,” he said.
“He’s got the power there and the punch resistance. In his fights as well, he makes it hard work, it’s a tough test. It’s definitely setting me up for those bigger fights, he’s a bit of a gatekeeper.”
All of the world heavyweight titles are currently in English hands: Tyson Fury, who fights American Deontay Wilder in a third meeting on Oct. 9, is the WBC champion, while Anthony Joshua defends his WBA, IBF and WBO belts against Oleksandr Usyk on Sept. 25.
Joyce and Joshua were part of the same Team GB boxing squad ahead of Joshua winning gold at the 2012 Olympics. Joyce also sparred with Joshua early 2017, but his rival English heavyweight is now his number one target as he nears a world title shot.
“All the belts are there, but they’re stuck,” Joyce said.
“You’ve got the rematch clauses and stuff. You just want to get these big fights happening and keep it moving. I would hope I get the winner of whoever [wins out of Joshua-Usyk, or Fury-Wilder].”