Joe Joyce has been warned his fight with Bermane Stiverne will prove his downfall — by a trainer with previous in upsetting British heavyweights.
On Saturday at London’s O2 Arena, the Olympic silver medallist will fight Stiverne, who preceded Deontay Wilder as the WBC heavyweight champion, in his most significant test since turning professional in October 2017.
Press Association Sport reports that the winner will move into contention to challenge for the WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight title, but Stiverne’s trainer Charles Mooney plans on inspiring Joyce’s decline in the same way he once did with his compatriot David Price.
In 2013 Price, an Olympic bronze medallist, was like Joyce undefeated and considered one of the world’s most promising heavyweights, to the extent that he was fast-tracked into fighting America’s Tony Thompson, a former world title challenger.
A shock stoppage defeat by Thompson, followed by another five months later, effectively ended his career as a world-level fighter before it had truly begun, and Mooney is confident that a similar upset will unfold on Saturday.
“This is my third time here,” he said. “I brought Tony Thompson over here, we came over to fight David Price.
“They thought it was an accident we knocked him out in the first round. They thought it was a fluke so they brought us over again, and we stopped him.
“They’re considering me a giant-slayer; I’m 2-0 against another Olympic medallist. We stopped bronze, and now we’re going to stop silver.
“I’m very excited about it.
“It’s the same kind of attitude here (as there was pre-Price-Thompson).
“Joe should wait a little bit, travel the rest of the world like everybody else has travelled instead of trying to leap over the fence. He’s not ready. Sparring doesn’t make the fight.”
The 33-year-old Joyce, entering his eighth fight, and American-Haitian Stiverne, 40, argued over the nature of sparring sessions that have previously taken place between them, leading the latter to become uncharacteristically angry at the press conference to promote their fight.
“I’m confident in my abilities,” said Joyce. “They can talk whatever c**p they want but they’ll see on Saturday night what happens.
“I’ve a lot of respect for Bermane in taking this fight. It’s the ideal fight in my situation, it’s a stepping stone towards other things and it’s going to be a great start to this year.
“I’m moving fast. Each fight is getting me closer and closer to those top three names (Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder). This year I’m going to really make big strides.
“It was four rounds (of sparring) but that’s all he could do at that stage. He says he took me to school, but I went to university (at Rio 2016).”
Stiverne, who has fought only once since Joyce’s professional debut when being stopped in his rematch with Wilder, said: “You think I’m going to show up and spar (properly) in front of you guys?
“Why are you talking about sparring that happened a year ago? I never said I took him to school, I don’t talk like that.”