Joe Joyce will face his most significant professional test when he fights former world heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne on the undercard of James DeGale’s February 23 grudge match with Chris Eubank Jnr.
The 2016 Olympic silver medallist, 33, has won each of his seven fights inside the distance, but in the 40-year-old Stiverne has been matched with an opponent who fought for a world heavyweight title as recently as November 2017.
Stiverne, who lost on that occasion to WBC champion Deontay Wilder, as he also did when losing his title in January 2015, has only one other loss as a professional — in 2007 to the little-known Demetrice King.
“It’s officially on,” Joyce wrote on social media of the fight at London’s 02 Arena, which follows successive victories in America. “See you in February, London. I’m coming home.”
Stiverne, who hasn't fought since getting knocked out by Wilder in a single round, believes Joyce made a big mistake in taking the fight.
“I told my promoter Don King to get me any man on earth and I will fight for the right to prove myself to the world. Then the phone rings, it’s Don, he tells me Joe Joyce - a boxer with only seven bouts - agrees to meet me! ‘Seven bouts?’. Seven fights and he has the audacity to box me? I have stopped Chris Arreola, Ray Austin, the then undefeated Kerston Manswell - and a boxer with seven fights wants to box me?!.’ I said to Don ‘Sign it, take it, grab it,’ I’m ready. Seven fights - and he wants to box me?," Stiverne said.
"For me it is a dream come true - but for Joyce it will be a nightmare. I will knock out Joe Joyce and step over him to KO Anthony Joshua. I’m primed and ready. The real Bermane Stiverne will be there on February 23 and will knock out Joe Joyce en route to regaining my heavyweight crown.”