No jumping for Joyce in Rio

posted on: 22/08/2016

ALAN HUBBARD’S PUNCHLINES – 22.8.16

Joe Joyce

Joe Joyce is a name that rolls easily off the tongue and it is still one set to be a household one, despite him failing to emulate his pugilistic pal Anthony Joshua and win the Olympic super heavyweight gold medal in Rio.

Alas, hard as he tried, Joyce couldn’t convince the judges that he got the better of his old French foe Tony Yoko, although many – including myself – thought he had. But the split decision wasn’t diabolical – certainly not in the same league as the one against Ireland’s brilliant bantamweight Michael Conlan.

In a way it may well have been poetic justice as there were those who thought Joshua himself was lucky to get the nod in his own London final against the Italian copper Roberto Cammarelle.

The decision went against big Joe so unfortunately he was unable to give us his famous twirl – celebratory high kicks and cartwheels in the ring – when the result was announced, but I have no doubt we will be seeing it again because he is sure to turn pro. He said he would be doing so even before the tournament began – and I think he will make a good ‘un.

He doesn’t quite have the talent or chutzpah of Joshua and he is 30 years old, though that is not an unreasonable age for a heavyweight boxer to begin a pro career these days. But he has strength and ambition and a left jab which Joshua claims feels like having a steel rod jammed up your nose. What he needs is a pro trainer who can teach him how to properly marshal his punches.

The public will certainly take to the 6ft 6in south Londoner Joshua calls the ‘steam train’, who is literally an artist on canvas. He graduated with a 2-1 fine arts degree from Middlesex University and is an extremely talented portrait painter with ambitions to own his own gallery.

He also played rugby for London Scottish and, at one time, worked as a swimming and diving instructor. Chatting to him, you find he is more interested in discussing the merits of Rembrandt, Picasso and Van Gogh, than boxing and admits he might feel more at home at the Louvre than in Las Vegas.

“Joe Joyce is unique,” says Joshua. He’s very intelligent, he’s experienced different things, you can see he is a really solid athlete. He has got people eating out of his hand. He has so much energy.

So, no ordinary Joe as fight fans will shortly discover..

His final medal of the Games helped Team GB to achieve its greatest Olympics ever, with medal successes across 16 sports, surely making us the best all-round sporting nation in the world.

Yet I may not be alone in finding some disappointment with the overall boxing performance from Team GB, although they achieved the UK-Sport set medal target of three, with Joyce, Nicola Adams’ much-predicted gold and a bronze from bustling light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi – who also has the looks of a potentially great pro – they did not keep pace with the improvements shown by many other sports.

In fact, the Rio boxing haul was two fewer than in London and some say they thought a sensed a spark missing in the 12-person team this time with only the ever-effervescent Adams, Buatsi, Joyce and Savannah Marshall progressing beyond the last-16 stage.

Indeed, there could be stormy waters ahead for what used to be known as amateur boxing back home with a major split over the fact that England Boxing supported professionals taking part in the Olympics without consulting them and only receiving a fraction of the £20 funding that goes to GB boxing over an Olympic cycle.

The 125 club London Amateur division – clubs which produced both Joyce and Ghana-born Buatsi through Earlsfield ABC and South Norwood – has voted by 81-25 to break ranks and join the newly formed Amateur Boxing Alliance. In turn, England Boxing have made it clear that clubs who have formed this alliance will no longer be eligible to have boxers representing their country in international competitions, including the Games.

No wonder there’s trouble at t’mill…

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Sadiq puts sock in it

There’s no doubt that new London mayor Sadiq Khan is more cogniscent with the noble art than predecessor Boris Johnson, who once admitted to me that he couldn’t name a single British boxer but “I just love watching them biff each other on the telly.”

Khan works out regularly on the punchbag and trained as youngster with Earlsfield ABC, Joe Joyce’s alma mater, in south London. And while he never actually fought in the ring, three of his six brothers did (two were ABA champions) and one of them, popularly known as Sid, is now the club’s head coach.

“I’m an avid boxing enthusiast,“ Sadiq assured me before the election and he lived up to his word by telephoning Joyce in Rio to wish him luck before his super-heavyweight final.

Khan also eagerly accepted an invitation to be principal speaker at the prestigious annual dinner of the Boxing Writers club at London’s Savoy Hotel in October.

The Mayor’s eldest brother Sid, who has been Earlsfield’s chief coach for 35 years, was the man who spent seven years transforming Joyce from a raw novice to winner a string of amateur titles to culminate in Olympic.

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Judgement days ahead

History shows that some boxers who were robbed by dodgy judging in the Olympics went on to have very successful careers at the highest level of the sport in professional boxing.

Michael Conlan

Two that spring to mind are Roy Jones Jr and Floyd Mayweather Jr. So don’t be surprised to see both Michael Conlan and Joe Joyce making it to the world title stage in the next few years.

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FIGHTING TALK

Boxing is a grim, tough sport but Nicky Adams does it with a smile on her face and with charisma. She is such a lovely person and she has changed the face of boxing. She is a very welcoming. She invites people in and when she does she shows them the world of boxing. We should all be smiling with her.

Fellow 2012 Olympic gold medalist and now IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua pays a fulsome tribute to Nicola Adams, now undisputedly the fight game’s first lady.
It feels amazing to think I’ve created history and that I’m the most accomplished amateur boxer in Britain of all time.

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams on becoming the first British boxer to retain an Olympic title for 74 years. She already the fight game’s first lady. Will she now become its first dame?

It was the fight that I wanted and I can’t comment on who is to blame for it not being finalised – I wasn’t involved in the negotiations. I leave all of that to my management team and my father.

Chris Eubank jnr on the one that got away. Instead of meeting Gennady Golovkin he will now be defending his British middleweight title against Tommy Langford.

My dream has been shattered. It’s been robbed… I came for gold and I’ve been cheated. I’ll not do another Olympics. I would advise anybody not to compete for the AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association).

Michael Conlan, Ireland’s last remaining boxing medal hope, vents his disgust after losing a highly controversial unanimous decision to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the Olympic quarter-finals. The judges were later sacked.

Boxing is my main source of income. I can’t rely on my salary as a public official. I’m helping the family of my wife and my own family, as well. Many people also come to me to ask for help.

Cash cow Manny Pacquiao explains that he is coming out of retirement to fight Jesse Vargas in November because he needs the money.

He’s an imbecile champion.

Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitscko is still pulling no punches with his opinion of successor Tyson Fury.

I messed up my lines a bit.

Joe Joyce is not talking about his tactics in the Olympic super-heavyweight final but on his failure to in the part when he auditioned to play the villain in the James Bond film Spectre

Read Frank Warren’s exclusive Olympic assessment tomorrow.

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