Usyk’s Interim Title Fight Against Joyce Can Reward Short-Term Patience With Future Success At Heavyweight
By Joe Alexander
After recent revelations, Oleksandr Usyk will likely face Joe Joyce in his next heavyweight escapade.
With an unwillingness to step aside, Usyk has long been the thorn in the side of Matchroom and a hindrance in the matchmaking of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for the undisputed crown. The WBO has now contacted Usyk, advising that he may need to wait for his title shot.
Overriding any loyalty towards mandatory challengers, the maintenance of credibility as a governing body combined with a substantial payment from the undisputed title fight provides transparent reasoning behind the WBO’s eagerness to remain involved. All the while, they can sanction a WBO interim title fight. Win-win, right? Usyk ranked number one and Joe Joyce, go head to head with the added bonus of a supposedly guaranteed fight against the winner of Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury.
Appreciative of Usyk’s demand to fulfil his mandatory world heavyweight title shot, combined with the retire-on-the-spot type payout, the interim showdown against Joyce can be of great benefit in the progression of Usyk at heavyweight.
Undoubtedly the king at cruiserweight and a pound for pound great, that same pristine level has not been displayed in this new division. Technically as sound as ever but without destructive punch power, Usyk has not glided past his opposition.
Coming off the back of the victory over Derek Chisora, facing another heavyweight variation in the form of Joe Joyce would provide an additional modifying step forwards in the adaptive process for Usyk.
The threatening challenge presented by Chisora were, perhaps, slightly exaggerated. In the twilight of his career, weathered but blown on by a second wind but revitalised under David Haye’s management. Chisora was deemed the proving ground as to whether Usyk can handle a seasoned, heavy-handed heavyweight.
The somewhat plodding, in-your-face style of Chisora was a new test for Usyk, dealing with significant shots. However, this style seemed to suit Usyk well. After Chisora emptied his tank in the first few rounds, Usyk had a relatively comfortable evening. Nevertheless, a needed test passed inauspiciously. A remaining inability to define Usyk’s potential in the heavyweight division.
Joe Joyce provides Usyk with another experience of trading heavyweight blows, relatively similar to Chisora in his front footed, walk-you-down style. Joyce provides more of a technical challenge for Uysk. It’s in the name – Chisora provided war. Joyce is more likely to challenge Usyk’s ability to handle a technician with a pumping jab.
Usyk is as technical as they come, but dealing with an 18 stone ex-Olympian is different. Joyce is enduring in his relentless nature that will test Usyk’s ability to go for all 12 rounds whilst carrying extra weight.
Furthering his evolution in the heavyweight division, the supreme boxing IQ of Usyk cannot be questioned. Fights at European or fringe-world level will unequivocally enhance Usyk’s cerebral stamina, downloading the necessary data required to topple the division’s elite.
With previous experience of one another from their amateur days, they will both have a precise understanding of one another. Undoubtedly, Usyk will have substantial knowledge of Joyce’s style, flaws and presentable threats.
The Brit will carry the same threat and pressurised style for the full 12 rounds. Joyce will hunt Usyk down and aim to land power shots coming off of the jab. With this alone, a threat is posed.
Usyk, elite when operating on the outside, will need to be switched on and precise with his work. To call Joyce a plodder is harsh, but he doesn’t possess electric hand speed. Opting for a clubbing style of shot selection. Both styles in a collaborative effort will gel, creating a fascinating end product.
When imagining this fight, it does suggest that Usyk should be able to manage what Joyce unleashes on him. Usyk should, in theory, be able to get in with a meticulous shot selection to pick enough rounds to win.
The reluctance to step aside from Usyk is completely understandable. An unwavering self-confidence means Usyk doesn’t fear any opponent, and rightfully so. The opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title cast across Usyk’s mind.
However, still unconvincing and perhaps not quite ready for the elite fighters in the division. The chance to bank more rounds and experience will only strengthen Usyk’s chance of glory once presented to him – let’s not forget that he will be fighting for the interim WBO world title.
Beating Joyce will pencil him in as the next opponent of the newly crowned unified heavyweight champion – short term patience guaranteeing greater long term opportunities. Having another experience-gaining fight before would enhance his understanding and, therefore, his chances of winning a world title.
Furthermore, the title fight against the victorious Joshua or Fury would be an even bigger fight for Usyk than it is now, presenting the chance to topple the unified king of the division. In alignment with the growing magnitude of his title fight, the financial reward would at least double the size in comparison to now, whilst cashing another seven-digit cheque when facing Joyce.