Ali ready to Kash in against rebuilding Joyce

Joe Joyce tries to rebound from damaging back-to-back losses to Zhilei Zhang when he meets Rotherham heavyweight Kash Ali on March 16.

They will collide in Birmingham and Ali, 21-2 (12 KOs), knows he has nothing to lose, according to his trainer former heavyweight Richard Towers.

“Exactly,” Towers agreed. “Kash is just going to go in there and do what he does, but Kash is hitting harder, he’s fitter, he’s a bit sharper, he’s got the experience, so he’s just going to go in there and give the best version of himself. I’ve got faith in him.”

Ali is coming off a six-round points loss to Ukraine’s Bohdan Myronets last July, but Towers is working on a plan to upset the come-backing Joyce, who is 15-2 (14 KOs). In his own fighting days, Towers was trained by Sheffield enigma Brendan Ingle, one of the UK’s greatest coaches, and Towers has been teaching Ali some Ingle moves to help him spring an upset.

“Joe Joyce, he’s not hard to outsmart, because he’s not the sharpest tool in the box, but nonetheless, he’s got experience and he’s a tough old boot, so we’re not looking to go in there and mix it up with him,” Towers added. “Kash is going to show a bit of Brendan’s footwork and teachings and I’m looking forward to it. Kash is looking forward to it, too.”

Not only is the pressure off Ali, but Joyce is trying to rebuild and recreate momentum in his career, doubtless hoping a win over Ali could launch him into the financial storm in Saudi Arabia for big fights later this year.

But he needs to focus on Ali, first.

“Especially coming off two back-to-back knockouts, and getting wiped out like he did the last fight,” Towers said of Joyce, who was stopped in six and then three rounds by Zhang. “And I know Joe. I think it’s a good opportunity for Kash to get in and demonstrate what he can do. You’ve only seen 10-15 per cent of Kash. I want him to go in and do what we’ve been working on and just enjoy the moment, because these moments done come along very often. Not for people like us.”

Towers said that, so far, Ali has shown more in the gym that he has in his pro career. That will need to change if he is to get by Joyce. While it could be a make-or-break fight for Joyce, the same is true for 31-year-old Ali. 

“He’s been looking like a superstar,” Towers said of Ali’s gym form. “He’s sparred Joe Joyce [previously] and played with him. Joe didn’t even land a jab on him. And I know it’s only sparring, and I know the heavier gloves, headguards and all that, but he frustrated the life out of Joe and it was just through simple things and not standing in front of the big guy.

“Kash is under no illusions that you’ve either got to pull it out of the bag or you don’t and you think of something else to do [another career]. 

“I think Kash just wants to go in there and get something from it [boxing] now. He wants to get a decent payday, express himself and show where he deserves to be. I think Kash deserves to be here. We will see. There’s only one way to find out.”