JOE JOYCE WILL encounter a giant in the shape of former world title challenger Alexander Ustinov when he returns to the ring on May 18 at the Lamex Stadium live on BT Sport.
Subject to VISA, the 6ft 7.5″ Russian will provide a tall order for the 8-0 Joyce, who is having his first fight following his promotional alignment with Frank Warren at the home of Stevenage FC as chief support to Billy Joe Saunders challenging for the vacant WBO Interim world super middleweight title against Shefat Isufi.
Ustinov, 34-3 (25 KOs) has longed been ranked highly amongst the heavyweight contenders and was unbeaten over the first seven years of his professional career until challenging for the European title and the vacant IBF world title against Kubrat Pulev in September 2012.
He remained unbeaten during his next seven fights, during which time he won the WBA International belt, before falling to a points defeat in a bid to win the vacant WBA regular world title against Manuel Charr in November 2017.
Joyce has won the WBA Gold title in his last fight against former world champion Bermane Stiverne in February, having previously become Commonwealth and WBA Continental champion.
The Olympic silver medallist is also mandatory for British, European and WBA regular world title challenges following a successful start to his professional career that has seen him register eight straight victories via KO.
“I could have waited until the big fight night on July 13th, but I wanted to keep busy. I didn’t want a journeyman, so we chose a 6 foot 8 inch giant and former world heavyweight title challenger Alexander Ustinov who’s only lost 3 times. He is big, awkward and he can punch. My aim is to take him out in spectacular fashion and put on a great show for the fans at the Lamex stadium.
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS insists he will not underestimate Shefat Isufi in his big super-middleweight test.
Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) will be in action just 12 miles from his Hatfield home when he faces the German based Albanian at Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium on Saturday May 18, live on BT Sport.
The WBO ‘Interim’ title is currently on the line although promoter Frank Warren hopes the organisation’s vacant world title will be at stake as champion Gilberto Ramirez is believed to be considering relinquishing and boxing at light-heavyweight.
Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs) is ranked number one in the latest WBO rankings with Saunders right behind him in the second position.
Saunders, 29, said: “It is one of them where people don’t expect too much, but Isufi can be very dangerous.
“He has come from nothing and got his big chance. You don’t get ranked number one in the world for nothing, especially with who he is promotion wise.
“He has boxed his way into that position. I have to take him seriously and deal with him appropriately.”
Saunders has settled well with trainer Ben Davison after splitting with Dominic Ingle and there is no doubt that his words about taking Isufi seriously are true.
The former WBO champion has been living at a hotel on the outskirts of Manchester for seven weeks and training at Ricky Hatton’s gym.
“I am loving it at Hatton’s gym with Ben and I am just enjoying it again, added Saunders.
“I have to be happy at what I am doing and I will get the best out of myself. If It’s not like that it can become a slog.
“There is no secret that 2018 was a terrible year with terrible memories. Everything got to me a little bit.
“I just needed a complete change. It was the same when I was with Jimmy Tibbs. He was the best coach. I always use the term ‘coach’ and ‘trainer’ and he was the best purist coach I have been around.
“I just needed a change then because my head was going stale. Sometimes when your head goes stale you need that bit of change as a fighter and that is what I needed to get that spark.
“I have to stay ready. Because of my style – slick and fast, you don’t get to keep that forever so I want to show it while I’ve got it and beat whoever they put in front of me.”
Billy Joe Saunders v Shefat Isufi headlines the bill at the Lamex Stadium, home of Stevenage FC with unbeaten heavyweight Joe Joyce in the chief supporting contest.
Tickets can be purchased via borotickets.co.uk and are priced as below:
£250 – Hospitality
£150 – Pitch
£100 – Pitch
£75 – Pitch
£50 – Stand
£40 – Stand