‘I was so close’

‘I was so close’

Joe Joyce admitted his frustration in seeing Daniel Dubois lose to Oleksandr Usyk.

Dubois had just one defeat going into his title shot against Usyk in August, which was administered by Joyce a couple of years ago.

Joyce’s relentless jab was so troubling for Dubois that the then 23-year-old controversially took a knee and a 10-count, and after the fight it was revealed that he had a fractured orbital bone that required months away from the ring to heal up.

Dubois eventually returned to the sport and defeated Trevor Bryan to become the WBA mandatory challenger, earning him a fight with Usyk when an undisputed clash with Tyson Fury could not be made.

Dubois, now 25, had Usyk in real trouble midway through the match, when a shot to his waist left Usyk on the canvas and struggling, but the British fighter admitted he lost his momentum when instead of counting out the Ukrainian, he ruled the blow illegally low.

Usyk would come back into the fight and a routine jab in the ninth brought about a stoppage.

Joyce’s career since the fight against Dubois had seen him earn a spot as the mandatory challenger for the WBO, but while he waited for his chance, he put his status as interim champion on the line against Zhilei Zhang, and it was the veteran Chinese southpaw’s jab which won out in April this year.

Speaking to BoxingScene.com, Joyce said: “It was frustrating that it was the guy I beat convincingly that got the shot before me.

“And it bothers me that I was once the WBA gold [champion] and paid the sanctioning fees, and then I was completely out of that [mix]. That’s a route I could’ve taken, but I did the WBO route and I’m in that position again. But to have to lose to Zhang, when I was so close and I could’ve just waited and took a different shot, it was quite a hard time and lesson to learn.”

Joyce turns 38 on Tuesday, and he sees little alternative to win back his WBO belt in order to get a title shot before it is too late.

“I don’t really have time to piece my way back another way, so I have to,” he added. “Because I could’ve had a fight in the meantime. Someone could’ve fought Zhang instead or Zhang could’ve had that opportunity at the WBO [title]. But this is why I enacted the immediate rematch [clause], so I can get back in position.”

Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce II set for OVO Arena, Wembley on September 23 LIVE on TNT Sports

Zhilei Zhang vs Joe Joyce II will be available on September 23 to watch live on TNT Sports. For the latest TNT Sports schedule, click here.

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Author: Tomi Guillemette

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