The fight that’s up next wasn’t the first choice for Joe Joyce.
Nevertheless, his upcoming clash with late replacement Christian Hammer is at least a chance for the unbeaten heavyweight to get reacquainted with the ring. Joyce and Hammer will meet atop a July 2 BT Sport telecast from at OVO Arena Wembley, marking Joyce’s first fight in nearly a year.
“Christian Hammer, I’ve known about him for a while now,” Joyce admitted during a recent in-house interview on promoter Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions YouTube channel. “He’s fought everybody. It’s gonna be a good fight. He comes forward so it will be exciting. This will get me ready for the fights that are coming up.”
The original plan was for Joyce (13-0, 12KOs) to collide with former WBO heavyweight titlist Joseph Parker (30-2, 21KOs) on this date. A location was not established at the time the fight was announced on April 23, when both fighters and Warren were present at Wembley Stadium for Tyson Fury’s sixth-round knockout of Dillian Whyte to defend the lineal/WBC heavyweight championship.
Parker has since signed a promotional deal with Ben Shalom’s BOXXER promotional company, which has an exclusive deal with Sky Sports. Joyce fights under Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, who does all of its business with BT Sport. Needless to say, the fight fell apart in a hurry and with Joyce in need of a dance partner for the upcoming show.
The search led to Germany’s Hammer (27-9, 17KOs), a journeyman heavyweight and generally provides an honest night’s work for the division’s upper echelon. Joyce was fine with the selection if it meant getting back in the ring and remaining active while waiting out his current title status. The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and unbeaten heavyweight is the WBO mandatory challenger to current WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO champ Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs), who awaits a finalized August date for a rematch with former two-time unified titlist Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs).
“I’ve been out of the ring for a year. Good to dust up all the cobwebs,” noted Joyce in searching for the silver lining in an otherwise showcase fight. “It’s gonna be a big year this year and next. I’m in the right place, I’ve had this training camp out here and I’m ready.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox