By Rachel Aylett

At Thursday’s press conference to announce Frank Warren’s big heavyweight show at the o2 Arena in London on 13 July, I caught up with Sam Jones, the manager of one of the protagonists on that card, Joe Joyce. Frank had stated from the platform that providing Joe comes through his next opponent, Alexander Ustinov on the Stevenage card on 18 May, they were trying to secure a shot at the European champion Agit Kabayel on 13 July. There was also talk that a shot at WBA regular champion Manuel Charr was being sought.

Here’s what Sam had to say:

Hi Sam,

What’s the situation with Joe, i.e., how close are you to getting the Kabayel fight for July?

That’s the fight we want. The only problem with him is that he’s allowed a voluntary, which he has to do before July and what we think he’s going to do is have that fight and then vacate the belt. We’ve already offered Kabayel career best money before and he’s turned down the fight. Frank’s made him a good offer to fight on 13 July – and he wants seven figures to fight Joe! So, to ask for seven figures for a European title fight, means you don’t want the fight. As Frank said, there are two ways to get out of a fight – one, you say you don’t want it, or two, you say you want millions and millions, to stop it happening. But we hope that we can force throug the EBU to make Joe the immediate mandatory.

Who might be the opponent if that’s the case?

For the European? You’re looking at someone like Robert Helenius, or somebody along those lines. But whoever it is we’ll get a fight because Joe wants the belt. Also, he’s mandatory for the WBA regular so we’ll see what happens there.

With regards to the three “elite” heavyweights, you’re now aligned with Tyson Fury and ESPN so …

I consider Tyson Fury the main guy in the heavyweight division. As I said to Joe, Tyson’s a friend of mine, but if you’re not in boxing right now to fight Tyson Fury as a heavyweight, you’re in boxing for the wrong reasons. He’s the best heavyweight in the world and if you want to test yourself against the best ….

Joshua’s still regarded, I think, as the best?

It’s a matter of opinion, I think Tyson Fury beat the man who beat the man, so I think Tyson Fury, in my mind, is no.1. Joshua’s got all the belts and Joshua deserves all the respect in the world, and I do believe he would fight anyone as well, but I do think Tyson has to be considered the best in my opinion – and I reckon he beat Wilder as well, he just didn’t get the decision.

Do you not think that might be the most difficult fight for Joe out of the three, Tyson Fury, because of his movement?

Tyson Fury is a difficult fight for anyone,

Wilder might be an easier opponent for Joe?

Yes, I would say so. Tyson’s not a one-punch kayo artist, he’s just a tremendous boxer with an unbelievable boxing IQ, so Joe’s going into that fight against Tyson thinking “I can’t really be knocked out, so I’m going to go for it for 12 rounds”. The only way you’re beating Tyson, in my opinion, is stopping him. I don’t think you’re going to outpoint somebody like that, being realistic. But look, it’s heavyweight boxing, Joe’s an Olympic silver medallist, he’s a decorated amateur, I’d back him against any heavyweight.

What about the Manuel Charr fight, how likely is that to happen Sam? That’s the gateway to Joshua isn’t it?

Manuel Charr’s a bit of a shithouse in my opinion. I don’t like to say that, but he really is. He’s not boxed for two years and he’s got hold of a belt that we want to fight for and he’s picking and choosing, saying “I want 4 million” He wanted eight figures to fight Tyson Fury – I mean, what is wrong with you? Just be a man, defend your belt and fight. We want that fight, we want that fight on 13 July and we’re going to see what his situation is with the WBA.

What is the latest on that?

I believe there’s going to be a purse bid called between Manual Charr and Trevor Bryan. So we’re waiting patiently to see what happens there. I’m being told that 75% goes to Charr and 25% goes to Bryan, and Don King being Don King is not going to accept that, so we’re ready. Get that belt and the world’s our oyster.

Joe has had a couple of stand-out losses in the amateurs hasn’t he, the one against Usyk at York Hall and …

Usyk is a …. you’re talking about a tremendous fighter, but remember it was over five rounds, with heavier gloves on and Joe was a novice. Oleksandr Usyk is one of my pound-for-pound top fighters in the world, but can he do it at heavyweight? When you look at all the greatest cruiserweights that have moved up, I think Evander Holyfield did the best out of all of them – I might be wrong but I think he’s the top man. He was a tremendous inside fighter, very strong. Usyk’s a tremendous boxer, but how will he do against Wilder, how will he do against Anthony Joshua? These are big, strong men. This is 12 rounds, not 5. Joe wasn’t bothered by any of the shots he was getting hit with by Usyk so you’ve got to think, he’s got to keep Joe off him for 12 rounds. I’m not saying Joe’s a better boxer than Usyk, I’m not stupid, I think he’s phenomenal. One of my favourite fighters to watch, an incredible fighter,

…. and obviously Tony Yoka …

Joe wants that fight more than any fight in boxing. Joe wants to fight Tony Yoka and that fight will happen. If Joe got his hands on the WBA regular, he could defend it against Tony Yoka in Paris, London, wherever. There are so many good fights in the heavyweight division and it’s now the promoters’ and managers’ jobs to make these fights happen.

How much of an assault are you going to make on that WBA regular belt?

That’s what we’re here for. In the rankings Joe’s down as the Gold champion, which is above the no.1 ranked fighter, Trevor Bryan, so we’re ready to go. If that fight could be made next week, we would make it 100%. If Joe took that belt off Charr and defended it against Nathan Gorman, Dubois or Yoka, that’s a real fight isn’t it, with real meaning behind it. Manual Charr is a very good fighter by the way, but he’s just calling himself a world champion – he’s not a world champion.

I just wanted to ask about some of your other fighters – you have Lisa Whiteside?

She’s making her debut next week.

Why has it taken so long for her to get her debut fight?

She had a problem with the Board, it was a medical issue which has now been resolved. She’s perfectly clear to fight now, so that was what was holding her back. We also wanted to get her on a proper show for her debut and a Billy Joe Saunders world title undercard on a nice outdoor pitch, live on BT Sport is what we wanted for her.

How quickly are you going to move her?

We would fight Nicola Adams in her very next fight. Lisa is 33 years old and she’s ready to go. There’s one thing about her, she’s very eager. We phoned her up and said “this is who you’re fighting” and she said, “no problem”. These are people you want to work with, like Joe.

Is that the golden goose fight, Nicola Adams?

Yes, but she’s not going to base her career around Nicola Adams. But I think in women’s boxing there need to be significant fights, to keep people interested and that is the fight she wants. It’s also the fight I want and I’m sure Frank would like to make it. We need the Savannah Marshalls against Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor fighting Chantelle Cameron. These are the fights the fans want to see.

The lighter weights in women’s boxing are far more competitive?

Yes, there’s Marlen Esparza in the States as well and some of the Mexicans. These are good fights for Lisa, but ultimately we would love the Nicola Adams fight because it’s a great British fight. So yes, we are going to move Lisa quickly.

How did you come to sign Guido Vianello (Italian heavyweigh)?

He came to London to spar Joe two years ago and he didn’t really have a trainer. He was training to be in the Olympics and he never had any sparring going into the Olympics, so I thought we’d give him a chance. We got him over and I just thought that he was fantastic. Good chin, fast hands, he was just a baby but I’m watching him blossom into a great heavyweight. After the sparring we all stayed in contact and I ended up signing him. He’s a tremendous fighter, I’m really excited about him.

How do you stay in touch with him?

He’s based in L.A. so I go out there and see him, or I speak to him every day on the phone. That’s why I don’t want a big stable of fighters, so i can keep a great relationship with all of them.

and what’s happening with Kody Davies?

We’ve had a really hard, emotional time with him over the last few months. He was the most active fighter in the UK at one point, but he’s not boxed since September. Unfortunately, his sister suddenly passed away. She had a bleed on the brain and instantly died at the age of 30 years old. Kody sustained an injury to his leg (severed artery) when kicking through a door and trying to break into the house to get to his sister, so it’s been a horrific time for Kody.

But massive credit to Gavin Rees (Kody’s trainer), he went in the house and grabbed Kody out and forced him back in the gym, after recovering from his injury. Gavin Rees has saved him. They have a beautiful partnership and Kody’s now really fired up. He’s wanting to dedicate the rest of his career to his sister. She wes always on the phone to me, asking when he was fighting next – they were such a close family. We’ve done our best for him, and now it’s onwards and upwards, because when you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up. His head is right now, it’s firmly in boxing and he knows what he has to do. He’s on Josh Warrington’s undercard on 15 June and hopefully we can get him a title fight on the 13 July card.

Kody fought on a PBC card last year, what’s the link with Al Haymon?

He’s an advisor to S-JAM Boxing (Sam’s company).

Do you have to consult with him, I mean, now that Joe is aligned with ESPN, does that affect the relationship?

I wouldn’t say so. We’ve got to do what’s best for Joe, not what’s best for Al Haymon or Frank Warren. He’s 33 years old and we will navigate him by any means necessary to the top.

You said you didn’t want to grow too much?

There’s a few more on the way! It won’t be too much, never more than 10 fighters maximum. We want to keep our relationship with our fighters and I don’t want to have 10 people in our team and they can’t speak to either me or Adam (Morallee – Sam’s partner). I’ve heard some horror stories in boxing where boxers can’t even get in touch with their managers.

The new people – will they be new pros, or established pros?

There could be one established pro on the way and next year we’ve got the Olympics so we’ll be looking at some of the world’s finest.


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