Unbeaten British heavyweight Joe Joyce, who is still just 7-0 (7) as a pro but has plenty of people excited about his future, will appear on the under-card of the James DeGale/Chris Eubank Junior grudge-match set for London on February 23rd – and a number of sources have former WBC heavyweight champ Bermane Stiverne saying he will be in the opposite corner.
If it turns out to be true it’s not a bad fight for 33 year old Joyce. Maybe. Stiverne, 25-3-1(21) has not fought since being blitzed to embarrassing defeat by Deontay Wilder in November of 2017. Then grossly overweight and out of shape and, it appeared, lacking in ambition, the man who held the green belt from April of 2013 to January of 2015 lasted less than a round. Many fans felt they had seen the last of the Haitian who once looked as though he had a very bright future. What can we expect from Stiverne, who turned 40 in November of last year, if he does get in there with Joyce?
If – and it could prove to be a big if – Stiverne has re-found his desire and if he has shifted some weight and is serious about more than just picking up a decent payday, the former champ might be able to test the still-learning former Olympic silver medallist. Stiverne has not taken too much punishment during his career (largely due to the number of layoffs he has endured, what with him failing a drugs test and everything) and he can punch.
Joyce, last seen wiping out Joe Hanks inside a single round on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury card of December 1st, has not really been tested thus far in his pro career. Is Stiverne the man for the job? Again, maybe. It wouldn’t really shock anyone if Joyce whacked Stiverne out in quick fashion, but on the other hand, if he is in shape, it wouldn’t be a stunner if Stiverne pushed Joyce into the later rounds. Only Wilder and Demetrice King (way back in 2007) have ever stopped Stiverne (and when he was in shape and had some ambition, Stiverne did manage to take Wilder all 12-rounds in their first fight) so who knows, maybe he could still have something to offer the division.
It would be a whole lot easier to predict what will happen in this fight (assuming it actually takes place, that is) if we knew what Stiverne has been doing in the 14 months since the Wilder hammering. Has he been in the gym or not?