JOE JOYCE WILL battle the experienced German Christian Hammer at the OVO Arena, Wembley on July 2, as part of a huge fight night also featuring Jason Cunningham v Zolani Tete, Callum Johnson and Nathan Heaney, live on BT Sport.
After being out of the ring since his defeat of Carlos Takam in July of last year and suffering a broken wrist that kept him out of action in the first half of this year, Joyce takes his place on the Wembley bill against the 34-year-old German Hammer.
"The most important thing is to get Joe active and confident again after injury," said promoter Frank Warren. "Christian Hammer is an experienced campaigner who will provide a decent test and give him a good fight, but obviously we expect Joe to come through it successfully and then start preparing for a bigger showdown later this year.
"It was well documented that it was our intention to match Big Joe with Joseph Parker in September, but Parker has now opted to sign a promotional agreement elsewhere. Joe's route to a world title shot does not revolve around Parker and we have plans in place for a major fight for him in the autumn."
"I've known about Christian Hammer for a while now," said Joyce from his training base in Las Vegas. "He has fought everybody, it is going to be a good fight, he comes forward and it will be exciting. It is one to get me ready for the next fights coming up.
"I've been out of the ring for a whole year now so it will be good to dust off the gloves and shake off the cobwebs. It is going to be a big year, this year and next, with some great fights and I just need to be in the right place.
"I have taken myself out to the right place with this training camp here to bring out the best in me."
The Hamburg resident, Hammer, has taken on all comers across his near 14-year career, with names such as Tyson Fury, Erkan Teper, David Price, Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, Tony Yoka, Hughie Fury all featuring on his record. He most recently went the distance with WBO number three ranked Frank Sanchez.
His most recent title success came in 2018 when he defeated Michael Wallisch to win the WBO European championship belt, a title he also won in 2016 with victory over countryman Teper and subsequently made successful defences against David Price and Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf.
The July 2 card at the OVO Arena also includes the highly anticipated super bantamweight collision between European champion Jason Cunningham and two-weight world champion Zolani Tete. Callum Johnson fights Igor Mikhalkin for the WBC Silver light heavyweight title and Stoke favourite Nathan Heaney will make a defence of his IBO International middleweight championship.
Due to a hand injury, Sam Noakes will no longer be defending his WBC International Silver lightweight title on the night against Marc Videl, so the Spaniard will now face an equally formidable foe from the Queensberry ranks in Mark Chamberlain, with the IBF European title on the line. This represents a first title tilt for the 10-0 Chamberlain and his first fight over 10 rounds.
Super featherweight newcomer Royston Barney-Smith has also suffered a hand injury and he is replaced on the card by the 6-0 welterweight Micky Burke jr.
Wycombe super lightweight Henry Turner is fighting over six rounds and Thetford cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher will make his professional debut in a four-round fight having recently signed to Frank Warren and Queensberry.