Boxing

Joe Joyce’s pursuit of Oleksandr Usyk has a deadline – ‘We won’t stall his career’

Joe Joyce will move onto new targets if his chase of Oleksandr Usyk does not make progress within two weeks, his manager Sam Jones said.

Joyce’s pursuit of Usyk hinges on the fate of the WBO heavyweight championship which Anthony Joshua currently holds.

Joshua is in negotiations to fight Tyson Fury but Usyk’s status as the WBO mandatory challenger is a roadblock. An option is for Joshua to secure the Fury fight by vacating the WBO belt, allowing Usyk to contest it.


Joyce, ranked by the WBO at No 2 behind Usyk, is in position to challenge should the belt become vacant but he will not wait much longer to learn his fate, his manager Jones said.

“The next couple of weeks because Joe wants to fight in April which is only 10 or 11 weeks away,” Jones told Sky Sports.

“Joe will fight in April. We won’t stall his career. If it’s a different opponent then it’s a different opponent, unless the WBO order Joe and Uysk to have a final eliminator.

“It is all dependant on the Joshua-Fury situation. We have made it clear to Frank Warren, Joe’s promoter, that we want to fight Usyk even if it’s an interim title fight.

“Joe would be a big underdog and would be written off but we’re confident that he would stop Usyk.

“Joe is all about goals, he looks forwards not backwards. He wants Usyk then the winner of AJ vs Fury.”

Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum is “95 per cent” confident of striking a deal to face Joshua whose promoter Eddie Hearn said negotiations are “on track and I don’t see anything derailing it”.


Undefeated Joyce earned a career-best victory by ending the perfect rise of Daniel Dubois with a punishing stoppage in November.

Derek Chisora has emerged as an option for Joyce to face next.

Chisora was on the wrong end of a hard-fought 12 rounds with Usyk in October and would afford Joyce the chance to stay sharp while waits for the world title picture to play out.

“There has been talk but Derek has been offered a fight with Joe on four occasions and each time he has said no,” Jones said.

“Derek hasn’t wanted to fight Joe but now it’s convenient so he does want to fight.

“Now, Derek needs Joe. So who knows?

“Derek doesn’t get Joe’s fists tingling. If the fans are interested then Joe will listen because he wants fan-friendly fights.

“Joe doesn’t want any gimmicky fights. He isn’t interested in meaningless fights.

“Joe is not prepared to do a ‘gimme’ fight. He can’t get motivated by that. He’s 35 years old and an Olympic silver medallist. He wants to keep his momentum and he wants to fight a big name.”

Joyce currently holds the British, European and Commonwealth titles plus the WBC silver and WBO international belts.

“Joe is a proud owner of those belts and won’t vacate them for no reason,” said Jones. “Only for bigger and better things.”

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