By Keith Idec
Joe Joyce beat Bermane Stiverne a couple rounds earlier Saturday night than Joyce predicted earlier this week.
The unbeaten British heavyweight contender dropped the former WBC champion in the third round and stopped him in the sixth round of a scheduled 12-rounder on the James DeGale-Chris Eubank Jr. undercard at O2 Arena in London. Referee Howard Foster understandably stepped in to stopped Joyce from assaulting Stiverne at 2:20 of the sixth round.
The 6-feet-6, 265-pound Joyce, a 2016 Olympian, has knocked out each of his eight professional opponents. He demonstrated composure, stamina and a reliable chin in defeating the hard-hitting yet aged Stiverne.
The Haitian-born, Las Vegas-based Stiverne (25-4-1, 21 KOs) weighed in at 273 pounds for this fight, by far the highest weight of his career.
Before losing to Joyce, the 40-year-old Stiverne hadn’t fought since Deontay Wilder dropped him three times and stopped in the first round of their WBC championship rematch in November 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Stiverne officially weighed 254¾ pounds for his second fight against Wilder.
Stiverne consistently landed right hands during the first half of the sixth round. A left hook by Joyce buzzed Stiverne with about 50 seconds to go in the sixth.
Joyce followed up with two hard right hands, which prompted Foster to step in and prevent Stiverne from taking more punishment. Stiverne didn’t protest Foster’s decision to stop their fight.
Following four rounds of almost non-stop action, the output of Joyce and Stiverne slowed during the fifth round.
Joyce and Stiverne continued working at a high rate during the fourth round. Neither fighter landed as many clean power punches in that round as they did during previous rounds, though.
An overhand right landed flush on Stiverne’s jaw and knocked him into the ropes 29 seconds into the third round, which counted as a knockdown. Stiverne responded well enough to Foster’s commands to continue.
Stiverne absorbed numerous power punches from Joyce for the remainder of the round, yet Joyce didn’t seem to truly hurt him again in that round.
Joyce and Stiverne traded hard left hooks 30 seconds into the second round and spent that entire three-minute period tattooing one another with vicious power punches. The more accurate, active Joyce appeared to hurt Stiverne and backed him into the ropes, but a resilient Stiverne returned fire and made that second round quite memorable.
Joyce pressed the action throughout the first round and backed up Stiverne several times by landing combinations to the former champion’s head and body. Stiverne snuck in a few hard shots of his own during those action-packed first three minutes.
Stiverne drilled Joyce with an overhand right about 50 seconds into the fight. Joyce wasn’t fazed by that flush punch and kept coming forward.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing