There isn't another boxer quite like Joe Joyce.
Since winning the silver medal at Rio 2016 – most thought he deserved gold – Joyce has torn through the professional ranks, grinding down 14 out of his 15 opponents through his relentless, come-forward approach and his heavy, heavy hands. (Bryant Jennings is the odd man out, in case you're wondering.)
In 2023, a world title fight against either Oleksandr Usyk – who beat Joyce as an amateur in 2013 – or the mercurial Tyson Fury looks all but certain. You'd be a brace man to bet against the Juggernaut.
Yet Joyce is also a unique personality outside of the ring. Softly spoken, with a love of martial arts, fine art and video games, the big man has never been much of a trash talker. This is a man with a hinterland beyond the gym and the boxing ring.
Few people are keen painters and also own a lightsaber. Enjoy our interview with a true one-off.
On his love of the extreme
There's a one-wheel GT thing that I've just born – it's like a skateboard and also a snowboard. I've been going round all the roads and that. It goes quite fast! I think it goes 30mph. I don't push the boundaries – I know what I'm capable of and I don't step outside that. But the boundaries are quite wide! Jumping, diving off stuff. Boxing is like an extreme sport. I get a kick out of doing it.
On his martial arts background
Before boxing, I was doing martial arts – hands and feet – but I found it was easier with just the hands! Boxing's very simple, but in that simplicity there's very complex techniques and stuff. I got a buzz out of it: 'my two hands here, my feet here, that's a jab and when I move I've got to take my foot with me.' You're thinking of all that but then someone's throwing shots at you so you're like, 'what do I do here?' It's a lot to learn but as you become more experienced it becomes second nature.
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On his rematching Oleksandr Usyk
Looking back at my WSB fight against Oleksandr Usyk in 2013, it makes me cringe. I'm like, 'what are you doing?' I need to go back and train myself! Or if I could time-travel with the same mentality that I have now then I'd probably beat him. I've learnt to deal with southpaws better. But I guess Usyk has improved as well. It would be a harder fight this time, a different fight. A great fight.
On his relationship with Usyk
I messaged Uysk a while before the Anthony Joshua fight, saying 'let's go! Let's fight!' He was like, 'patience.' Then he beat Joshua and won all the belts. [Was that specifically to wind him up or do you just message him?] No, I just messaged him. [Almost like a friendly relationship?] Yeah. I DM Joseph Parker, too – he's friendly enough. He's cool.
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On filming with lexicographer Susie Dent
I like Susie Dent, she was cool. I wouldn't mind being in some films post-boxing. It was good fun! One thing I need to do is practice my lines a bit more. You do so many takes that I can kinda get away with winging it! But it was a good experience, I enjoyed it! I think it's helped, too – my interviews have improved since.
On his martial arts gear
My big sword's just for decoration. I've got some practice swords in the front room and I do a bit of sword play. I get the lightsabers out occasionally. I've got two sets of nunchucks as well! I'd like to have a dojo – I come from a martial arts background so you've got to have some swords, your nunchucks, the bo staff and that!