AS FAR AS he can recall, Joe Joyce did not get to sample the experience of an open-top bus parade when he returned from Rio with his 2016 Olympic silver medal.
Joyce, you will remember, was the victim of a hotly disputed decision by the judges in the super heavyweight final against the Frenchman Tony Yoka which, if reports are to be believed, could well be subject to a forthcoming review by officials along with a host of others in the sport of Olympic boxing.
Well, Joyce has now got to enjoy the delights of the Capital’s many landmarks from front and top of a big red double-decker in order to celebrate the launch of his July 24 heavyweight collision with another Frenchman, this time Carlos Takam, in what will be the sternest test of his career to date.
Unfortunately, with Fury-Joshua not making it to the dotted line, Joyce was left in the waiting room and his WBO Interim title shot against Oleksandr Usyk aborted for now, due to the Ukrainian star taking up a mandatory challenge to Joshua.
Following his exploits on the domestic front against Daniel Dubois back in November, Joyce wanted a big fight to maintain momentum and he has got one against an opponent who has been in with the best in the heavyweight business.
Joyce goes in with Takam on a big night of heavyweight boxing from the SSE Arena, Wembley, live on BT Sport.
“I didn’t get to do this in 2016!” said Joyce on his open-top joyride that departed from his own depot at Stallards Gym in Surbiton. “Oh wait, there was something in Trafalgar Square that I went to, which was cool, but no bus. And no gold postbox either, although that could potentially change, maybe…,” he added, in reference to the review of the 2016 boxing results.
With the additional year tagged on, we are now in an Olympic year once more and Joyce admits he thought he would be further down the professional road than he finds himself. However, he believes he has been through the full gamut of experiences across his short journey to date.
“I imagined I would be world champion by now, but I don’t know. It did take me a year after the Olympics to start my pro career, so I started a bit late, but I feel like I have done everything, experience-wise, in boxing. I’ve had three trainers, moved to America, fought in America, fought here, fought on almost all channels, started off with a 10-rounder and was really quick to get to a Commonwealth title and have now picked up almost all the belts so far.
“All that is left is to get a proper version of the world titles,” he reminded, before acknowledging that his path contrasts vastly to that of a standard entry into the pro ranks. Given his age and top level amateur experience, Joyce bypassed the standard regular – up to six times a year – learning fights the majority graduate through.
Joyce jumped straight in with Ian Lewison on debut and fought Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth in fight No.4.
“I’m just 12 fights in and to take so many fights like I do probably wouldn’t be good for your health.”
Despite his level of opposition Joyce accepts that it took him taking on and triumphing against Daniel Dubois to convince a sceptical public and dispel any doubts over his ability to reach the top.
“Yeah, especially because, for the first time, everyone thought I was going to get knocked out inside three rounds. I did find it odd and it made it a great win and it was good to finally get some recognition.
“That fight actually became something of a turning point for me in getting the credit I deserve. Before I was like an unproven prospect, almost, even though I was probably the most decorated amateur.”
And now he’s paid his fare, Joyce is on a one-way ticket to the top.