JOE JOYCE has staked his claim for British boxing’s lockdown break-out star.
Last summer Joyce was a 10-0 prospect, frustrated by a year out of the ring and well outside of the heavyweight world title plans.
But the Putney Juggernaut then dispatched Michael Wallisch and Daniel Dubois — in high-risk, low-reward fights behind closed doors — and will be mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBO crown if he beats Carlos Takam on Saturday.
In contrast, AJ fended off Kubrat Pulev in December, had his heartbroken by the undisputed decider with Tyson Fury collapsing, and has to wait until September to fight again.
And the Gypsy King’s terrible luck or judgment means he will have spent 20 months out of the ring IF he finally fights Deontay Wilder in October.
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Fans may be moaning but 35-year-old Joyce is not. He said: “I have been as active as possible in the lockdown and turned nothing down.
“A lot of fighters chose not to fight without fans — it is a very different challenge — but I saw it as a chance to capitalise and am about to headline my third consecutive show inside a brilliant year.”
He added: “When AJ was fighting Fury, I was getting the Oleksandr Usyk fight for perhaps the interim WBO title.
“When that big English fight collapsed, it had a domino effect on me because now AJ has Usyk.
“But instead of moaning or moping, I jumped on Carlos Takam and that will get me my title shot.
“I hope I have kept the fans entertained, because they do seem to be a bit disappointed with the way things have gone.
“I felt the Dubois win really gave me a big push, in terms of support, so I want to repay that by making these big fights happen, especially my eventual world title shot.”
Joyce’s promoter, Frank Warren, is an Arsenal super-fan and wants a mega-fight between Joyce and old Team GB sparring partner AJ at the Emirates one day.
The 2016 Olympic silver winner and childhood Gunners fan visited the stadium on Tuesday, posed with mascot Gunnersaurus, and confirmed it’s a dream destination.
Joyce said: “I loved Ian Wright and David Seaman growing up, the glory days, and loved watching Thierry Henry.
“Fighting at the beautiful, brand new stadium there would be amazing, especially for a world title.
“Having the pinnacle happening at the home of my favourite football team would be very special.”