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Joe Joyce confident he would beat Oleksandr Usyk in potential vacant title fight

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If the WBO heavyweight title were to go vacant next year, Usyk-Joyce is a possibility.

O2 Arena Boxing Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Joe Joyce’s Saturday win over Daniel Dubois will be a more enduring story from this past weekend than Jake Paul-Nate Robinson or Tyson-Jones, and the 35-year-old Joyce’s immediate future as a heavyweight contender is now something to consider immediately.

Joyce’s manager Sam Jones notes that Joyce (12-0, 11 KO) could well be headed for the No. 2 spot in the WBO rankings, as that was where Daniel Dubois was before Saturday. He says it would be “rightful,” but sanctioning body rankings are rarely such in the first place, and it’s not like there was a guarantee of the No. 2 ranking attached to the contract.

Jones suggests their team would like to face WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk for the potentially vacant belt, which in theory could be something, though likely not. (More in a moment on that.)

Joyce tells Sky Sports that he’d be confident facing Usyk:

“I want to win a heavyweight world title. Derek Chisora put up a valiant effort but Usyk’s skills were better. Against me? It would be a different story. It would be a mental battle but a physical one too because he’d have a big ‘Juggernaut’ coming towards him for 12 rounds.”

Here’s the thing: there’s no reason at the moment to believe the WBO belt will go vacant. The plan is likely for Anthony Joshua to get past IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12, deal with the Usyk mandatory in the spring, and then go on for an undisputed fight with Tyson Fury. Best laid plans, etc., but that is the idea right now. The AJ camp have indicated no interest in vacating any of the titles he holds; quite the opposite, in fact, as promoter Eddie Hearn has stressed many times that Joshua truly cares about the titles. And giving one up ruins the “undisputed” tag they want to promote Fury-Joshua.

Now just shooting the breeze, yes, Usyk-Joyce is a compelling matchup.