Heavyweight Joe Joyce, who won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics as a super-heavyweight, will make his pro debut on October 20th in London. And, partly due to his age, 31, Joyce is already being moved incredibly fast. The Richard Schaefer/David Haye-promoted talent will face the experienced Ian Lewison in his very first professional test.
It shows the faith Joyce’s backers have in him, matching him with a 12-3-1(8) pro – one who, in his last fight, fought Dillian Whyte for the British title; taking the hard-hitting “Body Snatcher” into the tenth-round. Lewison is used to going rounds, he has faced a few notable names – Whyte, Timo Hoffman and Derric Rossy – and he has also boxed in a “Prizefighter” tournament.
Normally when a fighter turns pro, be it an Olympian or any other top talent, he is matched carefully, with an nice “easy” fight handed to him at the start of his pro career. But Joyce wants to get his career moving and so do his handlers.
“We’re very excited for Joe to get his pro career started,” Schaefer told ESPN.com. “In his second fight, there’s a good chance he will already go for the Commonwealth title. As his trainer (Cuba’s) Ismael Salas, told me, he believes that within six or seven fights Joe will be ready to fight for a world title.”
Are Joyce’s people rushing things or is the 31 year old that good, that gifted? Not since the 1970s, when Leon Spinks upset the great Muhammad Ali in what was just “Neon” Leon’s eighth pro fight, has any heavyweight challenged for, much less won, a world title in such short order. If Joyce can deal with Lewison, who has been stopped just once, as effectively as his people believe, it will be interesting to see who the hot prospect is matched with next, and if it is for the (currently vacant) Commonwealth belt.
As for Joyce maybe going for world honours after six or seven fights, if this actually happens, Joyce could be challenging for a version of the word title next year some time. An incredibly swift pace for any up and coming fighter.
Let’s see how good Joyce looks against Lewison first though.