Can ‘Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce become champion?

Heavyweight boxing contender Joe Joyce did what he needed to do in dispatching veteran Carlos Takam via TKO in round 6, but can he become a world champ?

‘Juggernaut’ is the perfect nickname for undefeated British boxing heavyweight Joe Joyce. He’s a powerful combatant in the ring who’s making a push towards elite standing and has many wondering about his ceiling in the sport.

Like the Marvel Comics villain, Joyce has forceful size and power at 6-foot-6 and weighs over 250 pounds. He’s a foreboding figure in the ring, but outside of it seems like a gentleman, unlike his Marvel counterpart.

Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs) has achieved and surpassed many of the accomplishments of other men who captured a world heavyweight title. As an amateur, he won several national titles, gold at the Commonwealth Games, European championship gold, and a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Joyce is undefeated as a professional with a 92 percent KO rating after his latest TKO victory over Carlos Takam on July 24. He’s building a robust résumé with victories over Daniel Dubois, Bryant Jennings, and Bermane Stiverne.

Can Joyce become a heavyweight champion?

Sure. His incredible punching power affords him more than a puncher’s chance.

But will he become a heavyweight champion?

Probably not.

The clock is ticking for the 35-year-old Joyce. He’s an aging boxer despite being only four years into his professional career. He found boxing late, starting at 22 years old. Boxingscene.com detailed his eclectic past, which includes track and field and a college degree.

His boxing story is unconventional, but he’s not the only boxer to find boxing late in life and go on to have a successful career.

Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder didn’t start boxing until he was 20 and won an Olympic medal. He won the WBC title less than seven years as a professional and held onto his belt for five years before surrendering it to Tyson Fury.

The difference between Wilder and Joyce is that Joyce’s boxing timeline is moving at a slower pace than Wilder’s. Wilder turned professional when he was 23. Joyce fought his first pro fight at 31 years old.

With his win over Takam, Joyce is a mandatory challenger for the WBO belt held by Anthony Joshua. A title fight should be on the horizon, but boxing politics make things move at a snail’s pace.

Joyce doesn’t have time on his side, but that doesn’t matter if he has the skills to become a champion.

Joe Joyce took care of Carlos Takam, but how would he manage against Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, or Tyson Fury?

He has the punching power of a champion, but I’m not convinced Joyce has the other intangibles necessary to become a world champion.

Joyce reminds me a little bit of George Foreman in terms of his abilities and skills. Like Foreman, his hand speed is average at best, but when his fists crash into an opponent’s head or body, they cause serious damage.

Joyce caused a serious orbital bone fracture to Dubois when they fought in 2020. Dubois was the smaller, quicker fighter with more polished skills, but Joyce broke him down with strength and accuracy.

It took Joyce about three or four rounds to find his rhythm against Takam. His hands and feet moved very slowly in the early going, but his reactions quickened and looked more impressive as the fight went on.

Still, Joyce’s lack of speed and quickness are his greatest weaknesses. Joshua is the same size and moves his hands faster, and looks much lighter on his feet.

So far, Joyce’s chin has looked like one of his greatest attributes. He can take a punch. Joyce has never looked hurt in a fight, but could he handle a boxer like Wilder’s power long enough to win by knockout or points?

Honestly, Joyce vs. Wilder would probably be a favorable matchup for Joyce. Wilder relies too much on his power. That fight would come down to who could land their KO punch first.

Joyce would be in trouble with Joshua. Joshua learned from his KO loss to Andy Ruiz. He can’t knock out everybody. If Joshua fought Joyce, he would throw hundreds of jabs while circling on the outside. It’s a strategy that wouldn’t win Joshua fans but would allow him to retain his title against Joyce.

Tyson Fury is the WBC champion and is favored to defeat Wilder in their trilogy. He’s a boxing maven who is unpredictable. He would also likely try to outbox Joyce while avoiding his power. Anyone that trades with Joyce is running the danger of getting seriously hurt.

Joyce isn’t the most powerful puncher in the division, but his combination of power and physical endurance make him a danger. His speed is his Achilles heel. He’s flatfooted and would have a hard time catching a mobile heavyweight with the power to keep him at arm’s length.

Joyce is gaining traction in the ratings, but he lacks the flash you want from a big draw. He delivers knockouts, but they’re not always dynamic. The result of his punches are but the slow movement of his arms makes his KO’s look less explosive than they really are.

Joyce is trying to mold his fights into a spectacle, but somehow the results come out flat. Take his ring walk against Takam, for example. Joyce tried to be theatrical by dressing up like Marvel’s Juggernaut but looked ridiculous. That wasn’t Joyce’s fault. His costume designer badly missed the mark and looked like a grade school designer, but Joyce chose to wear that outfit in public. People will remember Joyce’s costume more than his win over Takam.

In most cases, to become a world champion, a boxer needs the perfect combination of attributes to win the title and hold it with any longevity. Joyce has the power to get a belt if he lands the right shot, but he’s missing the other things necessary to establish staying power.

I hope I’m wrong and that Joyce makes me eat these words. He has come a long way in a short amount of time, but timing is everything, and he just got going too late to get to where he wants to be.

 

Source: FanSided

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