It’s looking more and more likely that Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce will meet this year in a fight for the WBO interim title at heavyweight. Usyk has agreed to negotiate a fight with Joyce for the interim belt and this removes the biggest obstacle to the massive Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua unification showdown. Those two are now apparently free to fight with all four major belts on the line, with a Usyk-Joyce winner to then fight the winner.
Joyce’s co-manager, Adam Moralle spoke with ESPN and he said the fight is being targetted for “the second quarter of this year.”
“It looks like a fight for the WBO interim title is what will happen next, and securing a fight with Usyk is our priority,” Moralle said. “I think Usyk should be Joe’s next fight and in terms if timing I think it happens in the second quarter of this year. I understand the WBO has stipulated they have to fight in five to six months.”
The WBO did the right thing in telling Usyk they want their title to be a part of the Fury-Joshua mega match. So it should mean good news for fight fans, in as much as we will get to see the big one and an intriguing fight between the former undisputed cruiserweight king and the recent conqeror of the hugely hyped Daniel Dubois. And again, in theory the Joyce-Usyk winner would go on to challenge the Fury-Joshua winner (this could take some time, however, as the plan is for Fury and Joshua to have two fights).
But who wins if Usyk and Joyce fight? It would be a rematch of an amateur fight, one that Usyk won over five rounds in a World Series of Boxing contest staged in London, this in 2013. But Joyce, along with his trainer, Ismael Salas, insists he is a wholly different fighter today.
“Looking back, I can see all my mistakes,” Joyce told The Mirror when looking back at the fight of almost eight years ago.
“Now it is different, Joe has far, far better discipline inside the ring,” Salas told ESB.
Usyk-Joyce II is a fascinating prospect, one that does seem likely to happen. Will it be repeat or revenge? Joyce has another question: “Will he be able to absorb my punches for 12 rounds?” Indeed. Usyk is a special talent but he was tagged by quite a few shots in his fight with Dereck Chisora. Joyce-Usyk II is a tought one to call.