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Joe Joyce in early negotiations for 2022 fight with Kubrat Pulev

Without a path to a belt in his next fight, “The Juggernaut” is exploring his options

Boxing - SSE Arena Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Joe Joyce is eager for his chance at a major heavyweight belt. Unfortunately for him, Oleksandr Usyk is contracted for a rematch with Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte is trying to press his mandatory status against Tyson Fury.

With all the belts tied up until well into early 2022, what else could be next for the 36 year old Joyce? According to Sky Sports, early talks are underway for a fight against 40 year old Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.

Pulev (28-2, 14 KO) has only fought once in the past two years, suffering a knockout loss to Anthony Joshua in December of 2020. He’s scheduled to face Frank Mir this Saturday as part of Triller’s Triad Combat hybrid boxing/MMA event, assuming that an ongoing lawsuit doesn’t interfere.

Joyce (13-0, 12 KO) raised his profile significantly last November with a TKO win against Daniel Dubois. He’s since shown his ability to stop 40 year old heavyweight gatekeepers, beating Carlos Takam by 6th round TKO back in July.

Pulev’s only loss beyond the Joshua fight was a 2014 knockout defeat to Wladimir Klitschko. He doesn’t have the belt that Joyce craves, but he does have four decades of life experience and a reputation for solid, if never quite champion level boxing ability. If a title fight isn’t on the table, Joyce could find much worse ways to occupy himself until those opportunities potentially develop later on in 2022.