‘The Juggernaut’ detonated a shuddering left hook to the jaw in the 11th round of a thrilling heavyweight clash at Manchester’s AO Arena on Saturday night, with his bloodied opponent left slumped against the ropes.
It was a signature and important win for the undefeated Joyce, who claimed the WBO interim title and announced himself as a mandatory challenger to unified heavyweight king Usyk in the process.
“It was a tough fight and credit to Parker. He has improved and I really enjoyed it,” Joyce told BT Sport after seeing off the challenge of the durable New Zealander to move to 15-0 as a professional, with 14 knockouts.
“I had to dig deep to get through the rounds, I threw everything at him and he was still coming forward. I managed to drop him at the end, but it was hard work.”
Asked about the future, he simply responded: “Usyk, let’s get it on.”
Usyk claimed the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight world titles with a dominant win over Anthony Joshua in north London one year ago before successfully defending them in a rematch in Saudi Arabia last month.
The Ukrainian had looked likely to face WBC title-holder Tyson Fury in a mammoth money-spinning showdown to crown the first undisputed champion of boxing’s blue-riband division since Lennox Lewis later this year, though such plans appear to have been scuppered by Fury continuing talks to finally take on rival Joshua himself in a huge all-British showdown.
Usyk is currently back home in Ukraine after a terrible period following Russia’s ongoing invasion of his homeland and has sounded uninterested in defending his titles against anyone other than Fury.
Laying out his retirement plans earlier this week, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion said he would like to face Fury and stage a farewell bout at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv as well as potentially meeting undisputed super-middleweight titlist and fellow pound-for-pound great Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a lucrative “freak” fight before hanging up his gloves.
While a meeting with Joyce is unlikely to hold much lustre for Usyk, his promoter Frank Warren said he would move “heaven and earth” to ensure it happens.
“Joe showed why he is the juggernaut. I knew he’d get there in the end but hats off to Joseph Parker, he is a brave warrior,” he said.
“We have a new kid on the block here. Joyce is like a fine wine, he is getting better with age.
“He is the mandatory challenger for the WBO title against Usyk and we are going to move heaven and earth to make sure he gets a shot.”