Everyone knows that George Foreman became the oldest man to win the world heavyweight title when he beat Michael Moorer at 45 to claim the title for the second time. 

But if Joe Joyce becomes world heavyweight champion one day, it is likely he will do it as the oldest boxer to win the title for the first time.  

Joyce turned 37 this week, the same age that Jersey Joe Walcott, Corrie Sanders and Oleg Maskaev were when crowned heavyweight champion. No one has done it for the first time at 38, but when it comes to birthdays, Joyce has stopped counting. 

“You get to a certain age no one bothers about candles,” Joyce said. “I didn't start until I was 22 so I am still very fresh. I haven’t had 300 amateur bouts and have only had 14 pro bouts so I’ve got a few more years left.” 

Joyce faces Joseph Parker for the interim WBO title in Manchester on Saturday. The decision to apply for the fight to be made for the interim title rather than just have it as a final eliminator has two advantages. Firstly, it means that the winner would get elevated to champion in the event that Oleksandr Usyk, who also holds the WBA and IBF titles, vacates at some point. It also protects the winner from a WBO rule that allows the champion at the weight below – in this case Lawrence Okolie – to jump the queue and be made mandatory contender should he decide to move up in weight. 

It was that rule that Usyk used to get his shot at Anthony Joshua. And under the rotation policy of mandatory challengers, the WBO now finds itself behind the WBA (Daniel Dubois) and IBF (Filip Hrgovic) in the queue for Usyk. Indeed, the Ukrainian retiring is probably Joyce’s best chance at becoming world champion before he is 38, even though he would be more than happy to face Usyk, who beat him over five rounds in a World Series of Boxing event at York Hall, East London, in 2013. 

“I’d definitely like to be world champion by then and hopefully after this fight I could have potential,” Joyce said. “George Foreman came back at 45 and had more technical skills than when he was a younger man. You never know. Usyk is a fight I want. I enjoyed the first fight we had even though I lost. Over the 12 rounds I'd been looking to turn it round. 

“I can be too patient sometimes, I could be more vocal about things. I believe I will get there in the end. There are a lot of twists and turns. 

“It’s a complicated sport because there are so many governing bodies and complicated characters, it’s like a minefield.” 

There is still hope that Tyson Fury will be defending his WBC title against Anthony Joshua in December, a fight Joyce takes a lot of interest in. He has sparred Fury before while he was Joshua’s main sparring partner before the 2012 Olympics and shared the ring many times subsequently in sparring as Joshua remained based at the GB Boxing gym in Sheffield. Indeed, Joshua travelled out to the Rio Olympics in 2016 to cheer Joyce on, although they are not close now. 

“I can’t see Fury not winning,” Joyce said. “I haven’t really seen or spoken to Joshua since I was on Team GB. I spoke to Tyson more recently and now he’s on the other side of the table [with Parker]. 

“I think Fury is the best fight.” 

He might be friendly with Fury now, but that could change if he ends up fighting him. 

“I think it will, especially if it comes to the press conference. You know how Tyson gets,” Joyce said. 

“It would be fun.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.