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Joe Joyce Got Late KO- Now WBO Interim Heavyweight Champ

Joe Joyce Got Late KO- Now WBO Interim Heavyweight Champ

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Joe Joyce Got Late KO- Now WBO Interim Heavyweight Champ

Queensberry Promotions photo

Joe Joyce Got Late KO- Now WBO Interim Heavyweight Champ

Heavyweight Joe Joyce and former world titlist Joseph Parker slugged it out round after round, but it was Joyce who landed the bigger blows and had the sturdier chin before he finally knocked Parker out in the 11th-round of an action-packed battle on Saturday at AO Arena in Manchester, England.

Joyce claimed the vacant WBO interim title and positioned himself as the mandatory challenger for unified titlist Oleksandr Usyk by scoring the biggest win of his career.

“Joseph Parker, what a fighter and what a great fight,” Joyce said. “It was a tough fight and praise to Joseph Parker because he’s improved and what a tough fight. I really enjoyed it. It was tough in there and I had to dig deep to get through the rounds.”

Parker had his moments, particularly in the first half of the fight when it was highly competitive, but Joyce took over in the sixth round and battered Parker, who showed a big heart and landed some big punches but Joyce walked through them.

“Both of them give their all and Joe came through and showed why he’s called the ‘Juggernaut.’ He took some tremendous shots himself, but at the end of the day I knew he’d get there but I was a little surprised how fast it was in the early rounds,” Joyce promoter Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions said. “It was quite fast. And he was coming out and taking the fight to Joseph Parker. Hats off to Joseph Parker. He’s a tough guy, a brave warrior.”

Parker, who was being cheered on at ringside by WBC and lineal heavyweight champion, good friend and training partner Tyson Fury, suffered a cut by his left eye and had a bloody nose in the second round as they exchanged clean punches. Joyce landed clubbing right hands and Parker fired in overhand rights in a battle of attrition.

In the sixth round, Joyce appeared to hurt Parker with a body shot and in the seventh round he sent Parker into the ropes with a heavy right hand. He also cut Parker over the right eye and landed a series of big punches in the seventh.

Joyce, who applied intense pressure, was breaking Parker down, but Parker never stopped trying to win despite the punishment he was taking.

Parker landed a tremendous uppercut in the ninth round and had to be discouraged when Joyce did not flinch and fired right back.

In the 11th round, Joyce was continuing his assault when he landed a clean left hand that dropped Parker hard near a corner. A bloodied Parker eventually made it to his feet, but not before referee Steve Gray counted him out at 1 minute, 3 seconds.

“I hit him with everything, the kitchen sink, body shots,” Joyce said. “I tried it all but he was still coming forward. I managed to drop him at the end. It was hard work.”

According to CompuBox statistics, Joyce landed 308 of 844 punches (37 percent), including landing 96 body shots. Parker landed 147 of 566 blows (26 percent). Joyce had a significant advantage in punches landed from the sixth round on.

“Very tough. Joe is a tough man,” Parker said. “We knew what we were dealing with and he just kept on coming, so the bigger, better man won today. I had to keep chipping away but it’s a tough challenge when you have someone like Joe putting pressure on you and chasing you down and I didn’t really execute the plan that we had. I did my best. It wasn’t my night tonight but I want to be straight back in there again. I just said to him congratulations on your win, well deserved. Every time I hit him he kept coming back. He’s a hell of a fighter.”

Parker (30-3, 21 KOs), 30, of New Zealand, saw a six-fight winning streak end since back-to-back decision losses to Anthony Joshua in a world title unification fight in 2018 followed by a close decision loss to Dillian Whyte later that year. He said he would take a rest, regroup and come back.

“I still feel like I have a lot to give to boxing,” Parker said. “There’s no point dwelling on it. A loss is a loss. Just go back to training and keep putting in the work. There’s no excuses. I did everything right in camp and I was in good shape and I just got beaten by the bigger man today.”

Warren said he would work hard to make sure England’s Joyce (15-0, 13 KOs), 37, who was the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist, gets his title shot in 2023.

“He’s getting better and better. He’s like a fine wine. He’s getting better with age,” Warren said of Joyce. “There’s no doubt about that. And now he’s in a great spot. He’s the mandatory challenger for the WBO title against Usyk and we’re gonna move heaven and earth to make sure he gets a shot at the world title next year. Obviously, there’s talk about Usyk and Tyson Fury unification but he’s now firmly in position to fight for a world title next year and that will be in the U.K.”

Warren said Joyce would not just sit and wait for the title shot. He said he would return to action in early 2023.

“Let him have a rest and probably get him out again around February or March,” Warren said.

Joyce, however, wants the title shot.

“Usyk — let’s get it on,” Joyce said.

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Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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