Joe Joyce marked his professional debut with a hard-fought victory by stopping Ian Lewison in eight rounds.
The Olympic silver medallist, unusually first matched against a proven opponent over a scheduled 10 rounds, was largely dominant but struggled to find the authoritative knockout he would have hoped for at London's Indigo at the 02 Arena.
At 32 he has turned professional at a relatively mature age but in joining Britain's competitive heavyweight division can pursue numerous options, which may partly explain being fast-tracked into the Lewison match-up.
He was instantly aggressive, almost immediately landing a right hand but showing he retains the defensive flaws of his amateur days when he quickly took one in exchange. Amid further eye-catching punches, the determined Lewison also threw multiple hooks and forced Joyce to fight with more authority in the second.
Joyce then fought largely behind the jab while his opponent battled in bursts, but in the third Lewison landed a left hook that hurt the younger fighter. He responded by forcing Lewison back again with the jab, then targeting the body and succeeding with a powerful left hook.
He thereafter took increasing control of the fight's pace and range, landing a hurtful left uppercut, and - while Lewison remained resilient - he began to show signs of being broken down before, at the end of the fourth, appearing to turn on his ankle.
Despite Joyce's obviously superior class, and Lewison's vision limited by the swelling by his right eye, he appeared to stop pursuing the stoppage until the eighth, when Lewison hit the canvas after losing his footing as he took a left hand.
Referee Bob Williams did not rule it a knockdown, but another heavy-handed combination then forced Lewison back onto the ropes and his trainer Don Charles threw in the towel after two minutes and 35 seconds.
Joyce's promoter, David Haye, wants his boxer to fight on the undercard of his December 17th rematch with Tony Bellew.
"Obviously Joe Joyce, that was a real fight," Haye said after the fight to Metro.
"The other guy came to win. But that shows people how much faith I have in Joe Joyce. We’ve offered Sam Sexton to fight Joe for the British title next. I’ve offered him a career-high pay day. Haven’t heard back from him yet. We offered Dave Allen the chance to fight here tonight, but he turned it down for the rematch [with Lenroy Thomas]. Dave Allen fights Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth title next week.
"But both of those guys could fight Joe on the undercard of my fight in December, so hopefully one of them come through. They said a week ago that they would get back to me in two days. I’ll chase them up again. Offer them good money. I have already offered (good money to people). Hopefully people are brave. Sexton just won the British title. To fight someone in their second pro fight in a 12-rounder, you’d think he’d be brave enough to do that.
"Same thing in the winner between Allen and Lenroy Thomas. Allen turned down the chance to fight now. He knows though, he sparred with Joe before. He felt the power, the Juggernaut! But, if you’re the Commonwealth champion you have to fight all comers. You’d think he’d put his hand up for good money (to fight Joe). They don’t want to go anywhere Joe. Just look at the calibre of their opponents."