Which way will Joe Joyce jump?
ALAN HUBBARD’S PUNCHLINES – 31.1.17
Joe Joyce’s party piece when he celebrates victory is a backwards somersault.
But what GB’s Olympic super-heavyweight silver medallist needs to show us next is a forward move. Will he turn pro-and if so, who with? Or will he try for gold in Tokyo three years hence when he will be 34?
It looks fairly certain to me that the engaging south Londoner whose amateur career was nurtured by London mayor Sadiq Khan’s boxer-trainer brother Sid at Earlsfield BC –will take one of the several pro offers he says he is mulling over.
But he believes there is no rush, as he is under contract with Team GB until March and is still receiving his state-funded salary of some thirty grand plus perks from UK Sport
However he may be running out of options.
So far only two of the Class of 2016 have left the so-called amateur ranks.
Double golden girl Nicola Adams is of course the prize capture of Frank Warren’s platoon of newcomers poised to debut on the BoxNation-BT line-up while 24-year-old Lawrence Okelie , beaten in his second fight in Rio by Cuba’s Erislandy Savon, has signed with Matchroom and will box at cruiserweight.
Jumping Joe, an accomplished artist who also has acting aspirations, may not be he hardest puncher is the heavyweight world but he will make a decent pro, personable, articulate and an astute ringcraftsman.
But the heavyweight arena is getting crowded.
Matchroom have Joe’s GB predecessor Anthony Joshua and Warren has swooped first to sign the exciting teenager they all sought, Daniel Dubois, who was being groomed at 19 to take over as GB’s Olympic choice for Tokyo should Joyce, as anticipated, go pro.
And now Joyce has been somewhat gazumped, so to speak, by the man who controversially defeated him by a split decision in their Rio final, Frenchman Tony Yoka, who last week signed with ex-Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaeffer’s new US-based promotional group Ringstar Sports.
Yoka is the ninth super-heavyweight champion since the division was created in 1984. Four have gone on to become world champions- Lennox Lewis (1988),Wladimir Klitschko (1996), Alexander Povetkin (2004) and Joshua (2012); two, Tyrell Biggs (1984) and Audley Harrison (2000) fought for the title and lost heavily to Mike Tyson and David Haye respectively, and two others (Cuba’s Robert Balado and Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle) never turned pro.
Can Yoka make it? His new trainer Virgil Hunter, whose charges include Andre Ward and Amir Khan, certainly believes so. “I am thrilled to be able to work with Tony Yoka,” he says.”He is truly is a rare talent who has tremendous potential and at only 24 years of age, he has the opportunity to become the future of our sport.
“The fact that he is moving his training camp from France to California shows how committed he is to boxing and I am committed to helping him fulfill his dream of winning the heavyweight world championship.”
Born in Paris, Yoka began boxing at six-years-old and was trained by his father Victor, a former professional boxer in the Congo. He is another huge heavyweight, standing at 6ft 7in.
So there you go.
With Hughie Fury poised to take on Kiwi Joseph Parker and cousin Tyson impatiently treading water it seems a good time to jump for Joyce.
Tommy is talk of the town
Midlands based Queensberry star Tommy Langford hasn’t forgotten his Devonian roots.
Which is why home town Bideford has presented him with one of its highest honours-the Town Shield.
Bideford mayor David Howell said the town owes triple middleweight champ Tommy “a great debt” for his achievements not just in the ring but as a great ambassador for the he
“Congratulations on behalf of Bideford for the three titles you’ve won and for being a great ambassador for the town,” Mr Howell told him.
“Thank you for not forgetting your roots, in every interview I’ve seen you mention how important your hometown is to you. Bideford owes you a great debt.”
“This is a real honour for me, I am a Bideford boy and I owe the town for all the support it has given me,” said Tommy.
“I’m lucky to have such great fans, they come to every bout and are always the most vocal.”
Even if he wins a world title Tommy will always be the boy from Bideford. Good for him.
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