French stars Carlos Takam and Tony Yoka are both on the list of potential opponents for Joe Joyce as ‘The Juggernaut’ prepares to return to the ring in July.
The 35-year-old Joyce (12-0) rocketed to number 2 in the WBO heavyweight rankings last November after he handed fellow unbeaten prospect Daniel Dubois a first professional defeat.
Joe has been in limbo since though, courtesy of those protracted negotiations for Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua. Had that bout gone ahead Joe would have fought the #1-ranked Oleksandr Usyk in a final eliminator.
Now, instead, Fury will meet Deontay Wilder, Joshua is likely to defend against Usyk and Joyce is left looking for another dance partner. His promoter Frank Warren says the hugely experienced Takam (39-5-1) and 2016 Olympic champion Yoka (10-0) are both on the list with July 24 or 31 the likely date for his next fight.
Warren told BT Sport Boxing: “Unfortunately with Joe, he had a really good win when he beat Daniel, and we’ve not been able to capitalise on it. The only way to capitalise on it, being number 2 in the WBO, he will become the mandatory challenger to the winner of Usyk and AJ if it takes place, providing they can agree terms.
“If AJ vacates the title, then Usyk will have to fight Joe. But we can’t sit around and keep waiting, which we’ve been doing and doing. So Joe will fight either on the 24th or 31st of July and those two names (Takam and Yoka) are really on that list.”
A meeting with Yoka in particular would be a fascinating showdown and a repeat of the 2016 Olympic super-heavyweight final, where the Frenchman outpointed Joyce.
“He (Joyce) needs a big name, he needs to be in with a big name, and he needs to move forward,” added Warren.
“He’s an exceptional fighter at heavyweight and obviously he’ll be looking tonight at Daniel (Dubois) and thinking to himself ‘I need to get out’. He wants to be out, he’s been very patient and we’ve had to work hard as I say to keep that position in the WBO. Now he’s gotta fight and he will be out next month.”