Joe Joyce said he is no longer interested in a rematch with Tony Yoka, unless there was a world title on the line.
Joyce lost a highly controversial decision to France’s Yoka in the super-heavyweight Olympic final at the Rio Olympics in 2016, one of many judges’ verdict that mystified observers at the Games.
But with Joyce in line to be upgraded to the WBO’s No 1 challenger after Anthony Joshua faces Oleksandr Usyk in September, Joyce believes he has other things to keep him occupied right now.
Joyce has not given up hope of getting that gold medal one day, though, if a recently announced inquiry into judging at the Games turns up any corruption, but a fight with Yoka can wait.
“I’m past that,” Joyce said. “It would be appealing at the right level. Because I’m pushing on for a world title so if it makes sense or is a title defense.
“He needs to rise in the rankings and do the work to get in the position to challenge me.”
In the meantime, Joyce, the British, Commonwealth and European champion, will be back in action for the first time since unifying those titles with his win over Daniel Dubois in November when he faces another Frenchman, Carlos Takam, at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on July 24.
“He’s a good, come forward fighter, he likes to scrap,” Joyce said. “He always comes in good shape. He’s experienced and he always comes ready for his fights. He poses quite a problem, so he’s a challenging opponent. He’s a bit of a shorter fighter, so he’ll be trying to loop them over the top and trying to get inside. He’s going to pose some challenges but they’re something I can overcome.
“I’m not hanging around. I will fight Takam and then there is something else lined up.“
It was not his intention to stay inactive for eight months after beating Dubois, but he was forced to wait while Tyson Fury and Joshua negotiated a fight, in the knowledge that he would get Usyk for the interim (and probably eventually full WBO title) if Fury-Joshua happened.
“I was in the gym anyway,” he said. “I’ve not been eating crap, I have just been training, ticking over and getting ready as if I was fighting Usyk. I didn’t know 100 per cent what was happening and then [Deontay] Wilder came out of the woodwork and messed things up a bit. So, I’ve been just staying ready.”
Joyce was the outsider going into the fight with Dubois, despite having much more high-level experience and he would question whether he really got full credit for the win, as much of the focus was on Dubois’s decision to take a knee at the end.
“It seemed to me to be more about Dubois’s eye and his loss and his comeback than about me actually beating Dubois,” he said. “Dubois was supposed to wipe the floor with me, beat me in less than three rounds and then I made him quit.
“I think he was just used to people waiting to be knocked out. They just kind of stay there and he walks them down and knocks them out.
“He had 30-second bursts where he was very dangerous, throwing everything but the kitchen sink. But then it was only for 30 seconds and then he was breathing heavily throughout the fight.
“So, I kept on the pressure, well not really pressure, I was trying to keep away from the heavy leather that he was throwing at me. I didn’t really take anything cleanly, most of them were glancing blows. I kept the jab still pumping out and it was just landing every time.
“I think it is the best win so far professionally, because there was so much riding on it. Everyone thought I was going to lose and it is just unfortunate that it wasn’t in front of a crowd. It was postponed three times and finally it happened. And it brought me a sweet victory.”
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.