By Keith Idec
Alexander Ustinov is 42 years old and was knocked out in his previous fight.
Joe Joyce still believes that the way he beat Ustinov on Saturday night disproved promoter Eddie Hearn’s contention that “Juggernaut” isn’t a credible opponent for Great Britain’s biggest boxing star. Hearn indicated recently that Joyce hasn’t accomplished enough during his 1½-year pro career to warrant consideration for a fight against Anthony Joshua.
The 33-year-old Joyce (9-0, 9 KOs) stopped the 6-feet-7½, 283-pound Ustinov in the third round on the Billy Joe Saunders-Shefat Isufi undercard at Lamex Stadium in Stevenage, England. Joyce leveled Ustinov (34-4, 25 KOs) with a left hook with about 1:10 to go in the third round and Ustinov couldn’t beat referee Victor Loughlin’s count.
Former cruiserweight contender Michael Hunter (16-1, 11 KOs), whom Hearn considered as Joshua’s replacement for Jarrell Miller, defeated Ustinov by ninth-round technical knockout November 24 in Monte Carlo.
“Well, there you go,” Joyce told IFL TV in a post-fight interview Saturday night. “The proof’s in the pudding. You tell Eddie, you know, winning this fight like that, before Hunter, proves to the world, and to Eddie, that I am a credible opponent [for Joshua].”
The 29-year-old Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) will defend his IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles against American Andy Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ruiz replaced Miller, who failed three performance-enhancing drug tests, on five weeks’ notice.
England’s Joyce, meanwhile, is scheduled to return to the ring July 13. The 6-feet-6, 261-pound contender’s opponent hasn’t been secured for his fight on the Daniel Dubois-Nathan Gorman undercard at O2 Arena in London.
“Well, I’ve got an idea and a few names in the hat,” Joyce said. “But until it’s all signed off, then, you know, I’m not gonna mention any names.”
When asked if former WBA champion Alexander Povetkin is among that group of potential opponents, Joyce replied, “Yeah, that’s an interesting fight. That’s one of the names, yeah. Possibly, yeah. I wanna be up against a really good opponent on July 13th. You know, it’s gonna be a massive heavyweight showdown that day, with, you know, three of us fighting – me, obviously, Daniel and Nathan.”
The 39-year-old Povetkin (34-2, 24 KOs) hasn’t fought since Joshua stopped the Russian veteran in the seventh round September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.