Exclusive Interview: Speaks to Joe Joyce sat down with Joe Joyce recently, to see what the fighter had to say about some of his rivals, and his plans for 2022.

Joe, how’s it going, how are you? 

Yeah, I’m doing pretty well actually, out in Vegas again training.

Yes, Sin City, training hard in the gym?

Sure, I’m training hard using a boxing academy and the UFC facilities so things are going well, I’m progressing and it’s getting exciting, I’m learning new things, new drills, getting my fitness up and my strength.

Any news about the next fight or are you just plugging away and waiting? 

Nothing officially announced yet but I have an idea who my opponent is but I’m not going to share and break the news just yet. At the moment, I’m working on techniques that will be good for the ‘said person’ and things are going from strength to strength. I’ve started punching again with my left hand, it was my left arm which was injured. I’m doing the rehab now, starting in the UFC facility, and that is progressing and I’m feeling good.

I can see you’re excited, and I’ve a feeling the said person is going to be a big deal. You’ve fought some elite fighters so far, maybe you’re not getting talked about with the top fighters despite that on the CV. Are you ready now for a World Title fight? Do you feel you are not getting the recognition you deserve? 

I think now I’m being talked about a lot more, especially with the big names and I’m in touching distance, I’m highly ranked and just waiting for an opportunity. I’m in a good position, it’s time to get these big fights started and I’m ready.

I know that one fighter you did want was Anthony Joshua, something we have to talk about, you must be disappointed that the Usyk rematch is going to happen now. Is that something you are keen on resurrecting in the future? 

Yes, let’s see what happens. Let’s wait until the fight takes place, it’s scheduled to happen. Let’s see who the winner is, and then I want to fight the winner.

You’ve fought both of them in the past, both in the amateurs, who was tougher? 

At the time when I fought Joshua, I wasn’t ready, everything was stacked against me on the night. The Usyk fight was a great fight, I thought I did well against him given my lack of experience and him being a tricky southpaw. I did my best, came up short and I’d love to do the rematch again with both of them. I’ve come a long way since then over the years.

I know that you’re obviously keen to get revenge in that rematch, but who would you rather fight next, AJ or Usyk? 

I think AJ, especially if he wins, would be a bigger fight than me fighting Usyk. But if Usyk wins then that definitely would be a massive fight as well. We’ll see what happens, maybe I’ll fight both of them, I’m not retiring anytime soon.

I know you and AJ had a bit of a back and forth on Twitter, you called him a glass cannon, have you seen a weakness in AJ that you could exploit? Are you confident you would beat him if you got in the ring? 

Yeah, it’s not going to be easy, none of the fights at this level are easy, but it’s a challenge. I have respect for him, what he’s done, but once you get in that ring, I’ve seen his attributes, his strengths and weaknesses, where I can capitalise. I know he’s not got the best chin, and once he gets hit, he gets in trouble. He has improved with some of his skills, but then I don’t think he fought the right fight against Usyk.

A lot of people talk about his chin. Joe Parker said he had a glass chin and Klitschko was quite confident of taking him out because of it.

I think he’s been lucky with his career, everything has gone so well for him. But the price is the steep rise and then a big fall when he fought Ruiz, we saw the gaps in him, and saw that he wasn’t indestructible.

I know you were saying how he’s had everything, do you think he’s been bigged up with the coverage he gets?

Yes, but obviously that his own work, he fits the right package and presents himself very corporate, so that’s a benefit to him and he’s capitalised on it. At the same time, he has a persona, which may not be true to himself.

Simple question, would you knock AJ out? 

Yeah, I reckon I’d win with a knockout, and hopefully that fight gets made, with nothing around it.

He said he’d knock you out in one round, I know you don’t agree with that, let’s hope that happens soon.

Yes, let’s get it on. Let him put his money where his mouth is.

If it’s not AJ, Joseph Parker’s manager has talked about a fight with you guys. 

Yes, that’s an interesting fight too. Ex World Champion, he’s a skilful boxer, and he’s had a great performance against Chisora recently so yeah, that’s an interesting one.

I know you also called out Tyson Fury as well. You’re friends with him, maybe tell us a little bit about your friendship with him, he has the fight with Whyte coming up soon. How close are you guys, and you are still keen to get in the ring with him, does that impact any kind of fight? 

I’ve spent some time with Tyson Fury, when he was overweight. I was on a training camp with him and we went and stayed where he used to live with Peter Fury, spending time with him and Tommy, so I got to know the family. I sparred Tyson when he was overweight, and then he came back and while I was training for Bermane Stiverne I spent more time with him, got to know him a lot more. He’s at the top of the game, its a sport at the end of the day, everyone wants to see who is the best so I’d definitely fight him. I spent a lot of years on GB with Joshua and Frazer Clarke and Dubois, I’m a friendly guy, I consider everyone a friend or acquantance, but I’m ok within myself to do this. People have different attitudes, it’s about going through that. I’ll fight anybody, it’s a business and it’s a sport at the end of the day, I’ll fight whoever is put in front of me.

A lot of boxers have a lot of friends they wouldn’t fight, such as Joshua and Bellew and Bellew has said he wouldn’t fight him. 

Yeah, with good reason, probably.

But for you, you’d fight anyone, it doesn’t matter? 

Yeah. Also, because I’m aware of this, it’s better to not get too close. At the end of the day, you get into the ring with respect for each other, try to knock each other out and afterwards you shake hands at the end of the fight because you have respect for them. In the build up, things can happen, things can be said, you can say things on Twitter where you get emotionally involved.

Having trained with Tyson, are you backing him to beat Whyte? Can Whyte cause him problems? Have you sparred Whyte in the past?

Yes, I sparred Whyte early on. Stylisticlly, Tyson Fury is the taller, has a longer reach, so I hope he can be working at range. Dillian Whyte needs to close the distance, work the body. With Whyte, you never know. It’s heavyweight boxing, you never know, let’s see what happens, but my personal opionon is Tyson Fury’s skillset will see him on top for this fights, I’d be surprised if Dillian Whyte knocks Fury out and he stays down, I’m thinking it will be a Fury victory.

Fury seems like an absolute nightmare to fight, with his faints. How do you go about fighting someone like Fury, who is so unpredictable? 

Once he gets going, it’s very hard to get him off you. He cabn switch, he comes at different angles, he’s a tall man, with a long reach, and with the Wilder fight, he’s shown he’s got power as well. He’s a very difficult fighter, but fights are at this level.

And just to touch on your rise to the sport. I know you were a late bloomer. You said you weren’t into boxing as a child, which is interesting, what was it that made you want to take up boxing relatively late in your life. 

I did it because I’ve always wanted to try boxing. Heard people talking about my local club and went there to check it out. I was initially doing it just to keep fit but then I could see a pattern forming, and I could see doors opening. All I needed to do was keep winning my fights. I’m a person who likes adrenalin filled sports and contact sports, it had that excitement for me and all I had to do was keep improving and win my fights, and the doors were opening up. It’s quite simple you just use your hands and beat your opponent. But then with that comes all the complexity, with the boxing science of it all.

So really, you were just doing this to keep fit and you thought ‘alright then, let’s give it a go’?

Yeah, and then I saw that it was clear to me the steps to get to and be successful with something. To be number one in the world.

I know you’ve no plans to retire, but when you do hang up the gloves, what would be the dream scenario for you. What you be the dream? 

I’m just out here to make a name for myself and leave a legacy. Then I can pass that onto future generations. I did swimming teaching when I started boxing, doing that on the side. That was very rewarding, so it would be nice to give back. I’d have a platform them too, so I’ll still be around, with media, events, we’ll see.

So, you want a world title. That’s your ultimate goal now?

Yes, well, not just get to a world title, but also defend it, and see if I can get more titles. Become undisputed, that would be a nice legacy to leave behind.

You’ve got a tough ask though, with Tyson Fury, Joshua, it’s a tough landscape to navigate through.

Let’s just see how the journey unfolds, it’s exciting times and it’s good that there are all these potential fights. Back in the old days when we had champs fighting each other, lose and fight again. All of this can happen again now.

I know you’re called The Juggernaut, how did you get that nickname? I know you wore the XMen helmet, was it from there?

Yes, the XMen, The Juggernaut. After I left GB, I was trying to think of a good nickname. Mighty Joe was on the list, The Juggernaut, Jack Hammer, but that got dropped quite quickly. I was talking with David Haye and he said I needed a name that sounded hard like the Sledgehamer. I said ‘What about The Juggernaut’? and it stuck. You want somthing your opponent will fear, so it sounds intimidating.

And are you going to steamroller through your opponents just like The Juggernaut does in the XMen? 

Yeah, I’m gaining momentum, and becoming the unstoppable force.

Did you watch the Thor and Eddie Hall fight? If you did, what did you think of it? And what do professionals think of the celebrity and strong man type fights? 

I caught the highlights, it’s interesting to watch the spectacle, you always want to imagine people around you, your bosses, team having a fight.

The KSI fights, Logan Paul fights, as a pro, what do you think of those? Is it a bit of a laugh? I know some people say it’s not right, it shouldn’t be happening. 

It’s entertainment at the end of the day. Jake and Logan Paul, whether you like or dislike them are improving in boxing and they have a love for the sport, they’ve caught the bug. Also, what they bring with them is a lot of fans, crossover fans who are not even into boxing, so it sparks their interest a bit, and maybe they’ll watch other fights. It’s good to gain more fans.

Fury v Whyte – Who is winning that? 

Like I said, I think Fury will get the nod on this one, but you don’t know what’s happening with Whyte. It’s heavyweight boxing, he’s got a good chin, his left hook, body shot, he could cause Fury problems. Fury sometimes in some fights where he’s got cut or not looked the best, where he doesn’t look up for it. He can be complacent, so there’s the possibility of that happening as well, we’ll see what happens on fight night.

You’re training at the UFC Performance Institute, would you consider crossing over to the MMA one day? 

it’s too much like hard work! I guess it depends how much for, think of a number. I can punch and I can kick, I’ve done rugby, so could probably do a bit of the ground work as well, but there as just so many different skilsets. You’ve got to have the stand up game, the floor game, submissions. I come from a martial arts background, so I’d do well with the stand up and kicking. I wouldn’t cross it off the list, I’m open to offers.

How much longer do you think you will be at your best? 

I still feel good within myself. I don’t feel much different from when I was 26. I reckon I could box until I’m 40, so I’ve got a few years left.

How’s the wrist feeling? A couple of months recovering and recuperating, how is it all feeling? 

It’s feeling strong and sturdy now. I’m lifting a lot more, I’ve started hitting my PBs for the year. I’ve started throwing punches again, at a realistic force and speed. Things are going from strength to strength. I’ve started doing more combinations now and I’ve picked up from where I left off. We start with the fundamentals and build up from there. I’m in a good place going into this week, we are going to keep being careful and keep the healing process going, but I’m in a good place with plenty of time.

I saw you were at the UFC institute, are you getting back into camp mindset now?

Yes, camp is well ahead and has started, it is in full flow. Obviously, the UFC facilities are amazing, especially for this injury I’ve got because a lot of UFC fighters have similar injuries so they know how to deal with it and rehab it. They have all the latest science and equipment so I’m in the best place.

Every injury is bad, but in particular, at the start of the year, a nice few names were starting to get thrown around, Joe Parker being one, there has been a bit of time for that to quieten down a little. How are you fixed for a return and possible opponent?

Yeah, until it gets announced officially, I won’t say. We’ve had talks with Parker’s team, Joshua’s team to name a few. Let’s see what happens.

There was a lot of stories with you and Joshua this month, lot’s of stories from his side about what supposedly happened in those Team GB sparring camps. Can you give us your story about what happened in those days? 

On the sparring camps, I know him or his team leaked a video with footage of us sparring, all his best bits. I’m not sure if it was open sparring, because some of it I’ve seen on You Tube has been where we have been drilling certain stuff, so you say ‘he’s got a left hook, you can only go bent arm shots, he can only do straight arm shots’ scenarios like that. I don’t know what’s going on with Joshua these days. I haven’t spoken to him, I haven’t seen him for a long time, maybe something has got into his head because he seems to be a lot more vocal on Twitter, I guess I took the bait and reacted with some of my quotes. It’s all entertaining stuff, let’s see what happens. I’d love to fight him one day, even one day soon. See how he gets on with Usyk and then we’ll be in touch.

Seeing that, you didn’t have any bad blood, it always looks spiteful on social media, rather than in person. Before that all kicked off it didn’t seem like there was much animosity between you, was that the case? 

Yeah, over the years on the squad, especially when I’m not a threat to him I guess. When I was on the GB team with him, he was already qualified when I got on the squad. Afterwards he was deciding whether to go pro or not, and then he did. He stayed within the GB setup, so we’d carry on sparring, both on the GB team, representing England. So he’d be helping me and getting me prepared for my fights against different countries at the Olympics and stuff. Obviously, now I’m a pro, I am kind of on the same level as him, so he’s probably seeing me as a threat a lot more. Some of his performances have not been so good, so maybe he’s not being as corporate, and he’s letting his ego get out there.

Like you mention, thanks to your progression, it’s awfully close now with where you are and the World Title picture. You are basically the same level. Is it just the fact that you are now a threat to him, which has provoked the different side?

Yeah, maybe. I think he’s always thought because he got that early victory when I was a novice, I wasn’t ready. Everything was stacked in his favour with that fight. I had to box twice on that night, he only had to box me after watching me. Then he had all the support, I was making mistakes to be fair, walking onto his right hand because I was just thinking southpaw, I went onto my left and then walked onto his right hand. I got the 10 count, it happened three times and the fight was over, I didn’t even know the rules at that point. For him to bring that up, I guess he’s always thought he would be me in one round, now that  I’m a threat, he wants to make everyone aware he knocked me out in a round.

The situation with Usyk was always going to decide things, and now it does seem the rematch is back on, During the period of uncertainly, did you feel that there was ever any chance of Joshua and his team seriously considering an offer to fight you?

I thought I’d throw my name in the hat like I did before, just like when Miller failed his drugs test. I was happy to flight out to Maddison Square Garden and fight him then. I’ve thrown my name out to fight him now, we’ll see, I’ll fight him eventually and then everyone can see how I’ve progressed and he can see when I knock him out and step over him.

If he loses against Usyk, that may be him out of the title picture for a while?

Yeah and then I’d be like, why would I fight you? I’ll fight Usyk.

Yes, all of a sudden they’ve swapped places, and in your position, you’re thinking you have bigger fish to fry and a world title fight. 

Yes, he’s already got the belts and lost them. I want to get the belts and keep them.

Just on your own situation, has there been any clarification with the WBO when you might be mandated for that?

It’s tricky, with everything right now, there is a route and I’m ranked 1 WBO, 2 WBC, 5 IBF, not ranked in WBA and 8 Ring Magazine. I’m right there, we just need to fight a few names and wait for my opportunity.

Does that mean until Fury v Whyte and Joshua v Usyk are resolved, there’s not a lot of clarification there, quite a lot of dust that needs to settle.

In the mean time I can stay active, busy and ready. Rehab the injury and carry on.

Are you cautiously optimistic that something might be clarified by the end of this year?

Yes, so we have a good picture of where things are heading, chatting to my team. We have a route, a plan, but obviously I can’t disclose that until it’s official. You’ll just have to wait and see, exciting times.

A couple of things for the heavyweight division to sort out. Fury v Whyte one of them, we are a couple of weeks out from fight week. How do you see it panning out? 

Fury is such a big draw now, he commands a lot of respect, it’s going to be a great fight but I see Fury at range picking him off with the jab, unless Whyte can get good head movement, get inside and work the body and the head. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight, I’m looking forward to it.

We’ve seen Fury beat allsorts of fighters and styles especially over the last couple of years, a different side to him. When it comes to your style and how you may take him on in the future. Do you see your style as one he hasn’t had to contend with at the high level?

Yeah, I have quite a unique style. My pressure and punch output, and also my power. I’ve got a relentless style. I don’t think he’s dealt with that, he did that kind of style against Wilder, when he blitzed him. He can switch it up as well, but it’ll definitely be a hard fight and I am sure a fight that everyone will want to see.

I’ve just mentioned your position with the WBC is not too bad either. Assuming things pan out how you want, that’s another potential avenue for you? 

Definitely, that is what’s so exciting and unpredictable about boxing. UFC is all organised under one body, everyone fights everyone, there’s a lot more financial incentives.

That’s a good point. Everyone raves about the UFC model, the champions right the number one ranked fighter, it’s simple. Would you prefer an ideal scenario like that, or is boxing with the uncertainty and madness something that keeps you invested? 

Being the heavyweight, I’m in a good place.

If you keep winning fights, like you say, the opportunity you’ve earnt will be there for you at the end of the year. 

Last question, just a quick one. If you could change one rule in boxing, what would it be and why? Longer rounds, but less of them? Shorter rounds? 

I’m not too sure. The different governing bodies have different rule sets. I think 3 minutes is good for rounds, maybe women’s boxing could go to three minutes. We could look at another weight class, or adjust the weights classes a little bit.