It’s fair to say Joe Joyce has not always been the most charismatic of Britain’s current heavyweight crop.

The 37-year-old is often an endearingly awkward presence on the mic, mostly uninterested in purveying the braggadocio and bravado that his peers among the boxing fraternity seem to thrive on.

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But there’s something different about the Joyce of today, the Joyce who finally holds a version of the world title after a career-best performance on his last appearance.

That came a little over six months ago as the “Juggernaut” laid waste to former world champion Joseph Parker to acquire the interim WBO belt, becoming the first man to stop the teak-tough Kiwi after an exhilarating performance at the Manchester Arena.

It proved to be the coming-of-age party that Joyce has needed to announce himself as a genuine force to be reckoned with in a busy domestic heavyweight division, even leading some to anoint him as the second-best among the Britain’s current crop of champions.

Such words may have been a fanciful thought in the not-too-distant past – but on current form, it’d be hard to argue against Joyce defeating any of the heavyweight elite.

And the man himself appears finally to have the confidence to say so too, aiming some uncharacteristically barbed comments at several rivals during his opening fight week press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“Joshua is right for the picking and I think the Juggernaut will take him out”
- Joe Joyce

During a feisty interview with iFL TV, the 2016 Olympic medallist delivered a scathing assessment of Anthony Joshua’s recent win over Jermaine Franklin while responding to promoter Eddie Hearn’s comments that he could potentially face AJ in the summer.

“I noticed after the fight he wasn’t calling my name out so he must have been advised not to, that he needs to get back in there [and fight again],” Joyce said.

“I’ve had enough of talking about Joshua. He’s only mentioning my name now because he’s on the road to rebuild and find his mojo.

“I didn’t think it was going to go 12 rounds. I thought he was going to go in and take him [Franklin] out because Joshua is heavy handed, I thought he’d take this opportunity. Maybe it’s the next fight he’s going to turn it on.

“Eddie Hearn and his team are cashing out. Joshua is right for the picking and I think the Juggernaut will take him out.”

Joyce also took aim at former foe Daniel Dubois, who looks set to face Oleksandr Usyk for the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles this summer following the collapse of talks between Usyk and Fury for a potential undisputed showdown.

Responding to Dubois’ recent comments denying he had been hurt by Joyce during his 2020 defeat to the Juggernaut, Joyce snapped: “Alright well why did he take a knee for his eye?

“Mate, Dubois talks a lot of s*** so he needs to hush down. He’s got a good shot but let’s have that fight if it presents itself.

“Oleksandr Usyk is going to dance rings around him, he’s not going to be able to hit him. Usyk gets him out of there.”

After a turbulent few months for the British heavyweight scene that has seen Fury’s future once again thrown into uncertainty and Joshua fail to impress on his return, the stage is set perfectly once again for Joyce to deliver a timely reminder of what he can do at his very best.

“Dubois talks a lot of s***”
- Joe Joyce

Zhilei Zhang looks the perfect dance partner to extract that from Joyce too; the Chinese fighter is a former Olympic silver medallist who comes to fight every time and was unlucky to have been on the wrong end of the scorecards against the highly-rated Filip Hrgovic last time out.

With 19 knockouts from his 24 wins, the 39-year-old southpaw is as heavy-handed as any in the division and will be out to prove his chin can match up to Joyce’s legendary granite slab having never been stopped before.

Can Joyce consign another to a first career knockout defeat – or will “Big Bang” bring Joyce’s world title dreams to a crashing halt?

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