Why Joe Joyce needs Oleksandr Usyk to BEAT old GB team-mate Anthony Joshua for title shot – having shared ring with both

JOE JOYCE will watch Anthony Joshua's rematch against Oleksandr Usyk with conflicting feelings.

The heavyweight will soon be called to fight the winner due to his status as WBO mandatory challenger.

Joyce is a former sparring partner and team-mate of Joshua's during his time spent on the GB Olympic squad.

But in 2013, he boxed and lost to Usyk over five rounds in the World Boxing Series tournament – a hybrid of amateur and professional boxing.

And having also sparred with WBC champion Tyson Fury, out of the three Joyce fancies his chances most against Ukraine's Usyk.

But it would mean needing the newly crowned unified king to do the double over AJ before Joyce could get his anticipated rematch.

Asked who his style matches up best with, he told SunSport: “I say maybe Usyk.

"Because AJ is more likely to knock me out and with Fury you’re in danger of being outboxed.

"He’s at the top, with Joshua, Usyk, they’re all at the top level but they all pose a different skillset and attributes which put them apart.

“Same with Usyk as well, he’s a smaller guy and southpaw, but they each pose a problem.

“Even Deontay Wilder, he has that phenomenal punch power. There’s some really exciting fights with the big-level names.”

Joyce, 35, looked in line to fight Usyk, 34, for the WBO 'interim' title while Joshua, 31, was in talks with Fury, 33.

But after the Gypsy King was ordered by an arbitrator into his contracted trilogy bout with Wilder, 35, hope of a unification with AJ collapsed.

Instead Joshua was mandated by the WBO to fight Usyk, leading to his disastrous defeat at Tottenham's stadium.

Joyce was meanwhile frozen out of the picture and reckons Usyk always had his eye on AJ to swerve a rematch of their bout eight years ago.

He said: “I think AJ suits Usyk more than my style. I’m a hard style for Usyk to fight. That’s why I think he was patient in waiting to fight Joshua.

I say maybe Usyk. Because AJ is more likely to knock me out and with Fury you’re in danger of being outboxed.

“I’d throw more shots and I’d have to have a nice training camp with Ismael Salas again and work out the game plan to beat this guy.

“It’s a fight that I can win, especially if it’s for the belts.”

Usyk outpointed Joyce over five rounds to claim victory for Ukraine over British Lionhearts.

But this time the British contender is relishing an extra seven rounds to impose his 6ft 6in and 18st 8lb frame.

Since defeat to Usyk, he has also beaten two southpaws in Lenroy Thomas, 36, and ex-champ Bermane Stiverne, 42, who Wilder twice beat.

Joyce said: “I thought I was doing well in the first fight we had, it was a very tough but enjoyable fight.

“There were plenty of exchanges and I reckon if it had gone a couple more rounds I would have started to come out on top.

“I’d have more rounds if I fought him this time around, plus I’m a lot more experienced so I know how to fight southpaws.”

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