Joe Joyce is set to redefine the meaning of fast-track as he begins his career in the professional ranks against Ian Lewison on Friday night.
The Clapham-based heavyweight goes straight to topping the bill at The 02’s indigo venue in Greenwich. This is no easy first assignment.
Brixton’s Lewison is a former Southern Area champion who holds a 12-3-1 record, with eight stoppages on his ledger. But Joyce, 32, is not talking with any arrogance when he mentions potentially fighting for the British or Commonwealth belts on the undercard of David Haye’s December 17 rematch with Tony Bellew.
The former Earlsfield Boxing Club amateur won silver for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil after striking gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow a year earlier.
“It will be good to start with a bang,” Joyce told the South London Press. “A 10-rounder on your debut, I don’t think it has been done before. It’s good to do something different and get people talking.
“I think I’ve got enough experience. I had 15 fights in the World Series of Boxing, which is similar to professional bouts, and I feel I can perform at that kind of level.
“There’s no point in me just rolling over a couple of people easily. I might as well take the challenge and fight Lewison. I need to be fast-tracked a bit.
“He’s a very strong, durable guy. I need to be careful I don’t get laid out in the first three rounds. He is no mug. I’ll have to be on my toes.
“I’ve naturally got a good engine. From my past sporting background I have good genetics. I kind of get warmed up later in a fight anyway.
“In the amateurs it is three three-minute rounds – it’s a sprint. I prefer the WSB format, which is longer. You got a lot more time in the ring and can see opponents tiring, I capitalise on that.”
Another South Londoner making waves in the division is Daniel Dubois. The Deptford puncher, 20, has blasted out five quick wins and used to be part of the GB set-up. The pair could be on a collision course, especially if they go after the same titles.
“Assuming it goes well on Friday night then the British or Commonwealth could potentially be my next fight,” said Joyce.
“I’ve sparred with Dubois when he was part of GB Boxing. I was shocked when he turned pro before me. “He’s young and needs to have a lot of learning fights, he hasn’t got the big experience I have. I still feel I’m ahead of him, even though I’m starting later on.
“I don’t think we’re likely to fight soon. I’m probably two steps ahead of him. I’d like to fight Tony Yoka [who he lost to on a split decision in Brazil and has also turned professional].”
Joyce’s amateur achievements meant he had all the main promoters in the mix for his services. He opted for Hayemaker Ringstar in July – a promotional company formed by Haye and American fight figure Richard Schaefer.
“Even Mayweather Promotions made me an offer but I feel I made an informed and correct decision,” he said. “I started the sport late – 23 – so I didn’t feel ready to make the transition into a pro until I had more amateur experience.
“I was thinking of going over after I first won the ABAs but I didn’t quite feel ready. Originally I was trying to get to the Olympics through athletics but I wasn’t at a high enough level.
“I thought about going pro just before the Commonwealth Games but then I won them and had my eyes on Rio. “Doing well at the Olympics gives you the platform when you turn pro. It makes your job a lot easier because you are already a name and established. I’ve done all I can in the amateurs.
“I can gauge myself at the top level because I have already done well in sparring against Bermane Stiverne [ex-WBC world champion, who is going for the belt again against Deontay Wilder]. We sparred in Vegas.
“I’ve also sparred with Dominic Breazeale, Anthony Joshua, Robert Helenius, Tyson Fury and Hughie Fury. “Anthony is the man. Nuff respect – he trains hard and is a good guy.”
If Joyce defeats Lewison – whose last fight was a 10th-round stoppage loss to Dillian Whyte for the British title in October 2016 – he wants to be on the Haye-Bellew show.
“David has been around for ages and the funny thing is he’s only five years older than me,” said Joyce.
“He’s got this Bellew fight and then I think he’ll have a few more. I don’t know how long he will carry on for.
“He’s started the new Ringstar promotion, which is massive. It gives me the freedom to box all over the world.
“I’m training at David’s gym in Vauxhall, which is 20 minutes from my home. No more three-and-a-half hour trips to Sheffield, which is great. “I’ve also got one of the best coaches in the world in Ismael Salas.”
Brixton’s Dillian Whyte will face two-time European champion Helenius for the WBC silver heavyweight title in Cardiff on October 28.
It will be part of the undercard to Joshua putting his IBF, IBO and WBA world titles on the line against Kubrat Pulev at the Principality Stadium. Whyte – whose only blemish on a 22-fight career is at the hands of Joshua – is chasing a showdown with Wilder.