Joe Joyce wants to paint a ring masterpiece in U.S. debut

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Accomplished artist and 2016 Olympic silver medalist from London is ready to make a big statement Sunday night when he faces Iago Kiladze on PBC on FS1.

“We are unleashing a beast in the U.S.”

That warning was issued by Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports.

The beast is Joe Joyce, a soft-spoken giant of a man from London, England, a college graduate and 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist who has come to America in search of a heavyweight world title.

The unleashing will take place this Sunday night, Sept. 30, at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California when Joyce (5-0, 5 KOs) makes his American debut against Iago Kiladze (26-3, 18 KOs) from the Republic of Georgia in an eight-round heavyweight battle. It will be part of the undercard for a PBC on FS1 (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) main event featuring former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz and former title contender John Molina Jr.

Joyce has been training hard in the mountains of Big Bear Lake, Calif., under the tutelage of his new trainer Abel Sanchez. It has been an eye-opening experience for Joyce, who had been working in London with Ismael Salas, the legendary former Cuban National team coach, before he abruptly retired.

Joyce subsequently came to Big Bear for a trial run with Sanchez, who trains former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. Joyce and Sanchez fighter clicked immediately, making it an official working relationship two months ago.

“Being on the (British) Olympic team I was used to working in secluded places, but out here in Big Bear there are no distractions,” Joyce said. “There are benefits to being here because the air quality is really fresh, and the altitude benefits my training. It’s tough running up here in the altitude. I’m already super fit. This is just going to get me ultra-fit. The training regimen here is very tough, and you’ll see on fight night what I’ve gained from it.”

Schaefer says Joyce, who turned 33 last week, is the real deal and Sanchez is a perfect fit for Joyce.

Joyce’s age could be a detriment for a guy so early into his pro career, Sanchez said. He’s working hard to get the message of urgency across to the fighter.

“It’s unfortunate … but he’s going to have to push it fast. He hasn’t got that many years to school in the gym. He’s going to have to go at a pace that isn’t the best thing for him but he’s got no choice,” Sanchez said. “He just turned 33 a couple days ago, so they’re going to have to move him into a title fight very soon to take advantage of his youth. Although heavyweights mature a little later, I understand from the management that they are looking to move him very fast.”

Joyce hasn’t felt that sense of urgency yet, and says it’s because he’s a low-mileage fighter who has only been boxing for 10 years and had his pro debut less than a year ago. With three first-round KOs, he has only 13 rounds of pro experience under his belt.

“I still feel young, and fresh. I’ve been in the sport for 10 years and I started when I was 22, so I’ve got low mileage and at the same time I’m an experienced amateur, winning all five of the medals you can get as an amateur,” Joyce said. “I had a 10-rounder in my pro debut, and [needed only] four fights to win the Commonwealth title, so I’m very capable of winning heavyweight titles.

Despite his age, Joyce has a quality that can’t be taught in the gym, according to Sanchez: an innate meanness that he’s seen come out during sparring sessions. It’s the polar opposite of Joyce’s happy-go-lucky personality outside of the ring.

“I look at him like a George Foreman, where once he gets in the ring he wants to punish you, just jump on you,” Sanchez said. “He has a tendency to get a little upset when he gets hit with a shot that he shouldn’t have been hit with, and he has this mean streak in him that comes out. It’s, how can it put it, dangerous for his sparring partners.”

Of all the qualities the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Joyce carries into the ring—the biggest is his size.

“How he moves for his size, and how he reacts for his size,” Sanchez said. “Not so much a Muhammad Ali movement, but his reactions and instincts for a big man are quite impressive.”

What Joyce needs the most work on is his speed.

“I think I have to pick up his speed in sparring,” Sanchez said. “His defense is decent but his speed is something I have to get a little bit faster because it’s going to be a detriment to him when he fights the smaller heavyweights that are quicker.”

Sanchez is working on putting more snap into Joyce’s punches, “showing me how to throw them power shots, the hooks that Gennady (Golovkin) use … how to get that snap in my punches to land heavy shots.”

Away from the ring, there’s another type of canvas Joyce enjoys working on, the kind that sits on an easel. Joyce is an accomplished artist who counts Picasso, Van Gogh and American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat among his inspirations.

“I started being creative and painting at a young age and both my parents (his mother is Nigerian) are artsy,” Joyce said. “I was very good in school and I progressed to ‘A’ level. I went to college and did an art foundation, got a BA (in) Fine Arts, and I’ve been painting at quite a high level.”

He also did a semester as an exchange student at Sacramento State.

“I love art,” he said. “Boxing is my sole focus right now, but as soon as I get time, I’d love to make some work.”

Joyce hopes to make short work out of Kiladze, whom he says “is very seasoned and had a lot of success in his fights. He’s a good solid boxer so it’s going to be tough competition.”

Kiladze, 32, is coming off consecutive knockout losses to undefeated slugger Adam Kownacki and former U.S. Olympian Michael Hunter.

Joyce hopes to live up to his nickname, “The Juggernaut,” on Sunday. “I’m really looking forward to expanding my fan base here in America,” he said.

Joyce’s prediction is summed up in three words.

“Joe Joyce. Knockout.”

For a closer look at Joe Joyce, check out his fighter page.

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