Heavyweight Joyce ready for camp having made changes ahead of March return

Heavyweight Joe Joyce has confirmed that he will continue his career following back-to-back stoppage defeats to Zhilei Zhang in 2023, which cast a cloud on his future and his world-level credentials. 

In 2022, Joyce (15-2, 14KOs) had been tipped as a future world title challenger with a No. 1 rating with the WBO and securing a highlight-reel knockout and career-best win over Joseph Parker. Things were going to plan, and he was arguably the hottest heavyweight who had not challenged for a world title. 

But in April, the Putney-based former Olympian was stopped in the sixth against Zhang, courtesy of a swollen eye. The pair rematched in September, Zhang dominated and dispatched Joyce even faster. 

Despite being 38, Joyce is eyeing a March return and has made changes to his training camp, which does not now involve former trainer Ismael Salas, who is based out of Las Vegas. Joyce will be training in the UK and is aiming to fight three times in 2024, hoping to get involved in the heavyweight hustle of fighting in Saudi Arabia against one of the bigger names in the division. 

“It’s water over the bridge after my defeat against Zhang now, and I’m looking at steps ahead and Zhang meanwhile can continue what he’s doing, and I aim to get back into the ring in March for an easier fight, and then once I get back in there and if I win, then I’ll come for these big heavyweight fights,” Joyce told Betway.

“I would fight any one of Daniel Dubois, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker. There are a lot of interesting fights out there these days, especially with what is happening in Saudi – there are plenty of great fights, but I need to get comfortable winning again and then go for a big test.

“Officially, camp starts on January 8 and with small changes [in the team] as I’ll do my camp here [in England], so I won’t need to go to Las Vegas this time. There’ll be Steve Broughton heading the boxing training, and possibly another trainer for the strength and conditioning. I think I will have two or three fights this year.”