Joyce eyes Saudi Arabian opportunities if return against Ali goes to plan

Heavyweight Joe Joyce has said it would have been crazy to retire following his back-to-back losses to Zhieli Zhang, insisting it is an exciting time to be a heavyweight. 

Joyce entered 2023 on the crest of a wave following a career-best performance against Joseph Parker, claiming a highlight-reel knockout in the process. 

But consecutive stoppage defeats to Zhang in April and September has seen the expectation on Joyce’s shoulders enormously reduced. 

‘The Juggernaut’ looked relaxed at today’s press conference to confirm his return on Queenberry’s latest installment of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ series on March 16. The card features the ring returns of newly crowned British middleweight champion Nathan Heaney, Liam Davies, Dennis McCann, Solomon Dacres, and Zach Parker and an all-Queenberry welterweight affair between Eithan James and Owen Cooper. 

Joyce (15-2, 14KOs) faces Kash Ali (21-2, 12KOs), who is also rebuilding following his defeat to Bohdan Myronets in Edinburgh in July. ProBox TV spoke with Ali’s trainer, Richard Towers, prior to Joyce’s comments and Towers and Ali are confident about their prospects. 

Joyce said it felt good to be back following his defeats and he wants to look explosive. He also believes there are “plenty” of options for fights. 

“It’s good to be back and get back into camp and to start the year with a bang,” Joyce said at a press conference at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.

“I’m still here. I’m not retiring, and I have plenty of fights to be in. It’s an exciting time to be in the heavyweights division. Why retire now? I’d be crazy to.”

The heavyweight scene has changed significantly since Joyce last appeared inside a boxing ring. 

Saudi Arabia and Turki Alalshikh have become dominant figures in heavyweight boxing in particular, offering significant financial rewards to fly out to Riyadh and compete.

“I want to get back to winning ways again with a nice victory and then there are plenty of fights on the horizon,” Joyce added. “The heavyweight division is thriving at the moment, especially with the opportunities in Saudi Arabia.”

Joyce was asked if Zhang had simply just gotten his number in regards to the style match-up between himself and the Chinese heavyweight, to which Joyce replied: “Styles make fights, and he’s a hard-hitting durable southpaw [Zhang]. I learnt from the first fight [what I had to do against him], but I didn’t get the result [in the second]. He got the beating of me, but I’ll see what he’ll do next [after he fights Parker].”