Joe Joyce edged closer to a heavyweight world title shot with a sixth-round stoppage of Bermane Stiverne.
The Brit looked to put on a show when he took on former world champion Stiverne on the undercard of James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 on Saturday night.
Right from the opening round, Joyce attacked the less mobile 19-stone plus Canadian and landed several heavy shots.
Stiverne would reply with some haymaker-like right hands, but Joyce stood in front of the 40-year-old and heaped on the pressure.
Joyce wobbled Stiverne in the second round and a left uppercut really put the Canadian in trouble.
In a good old fashioned heavyweight slugfest, Stiverne was not shy about popping off a reply. However, that ended up working to his detriment.
Zero head movement and with no mobility to get out of Joyce’s range, Stiverne was lucky to see the third round.
A big overhand right at the start of the third round had Stiverne down, but, somehow, the former champ got up and had one last barrage in his locker that he wasn’t afraid to unleash.
Once Joyce had him against the ropes again, the crowd in the O2 Arena were almost begging for Stiverne to be put out of his misery having roundly booed him beforehand.
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Nobody can say Stiverne couldn’t or didn’t take a whack and the fact he saw out the fourth round is a testament to his character.
Stiverne, who was WBC champ before Deontay Wilder five years ago, hung tough in the fifth round and Joyce appeared to slow his rate or punches, perhaps looking for an opening as opposed to forcing it.
After Joyce’s initial push, his punches certainly lacked more punch as the fight headed into the sixth round.
There was no doubt that he was in control, but now he was battling himself as much as he was Stiverne.
However, midway through the sixth, the 33-year-old put Stiverne away with his much-loved left-hand jab, right uppercut combo and the ref finally intervened. Arguably, a few rounds later than he should have.
Considering that Joyce took on a former world champion that was only in the ring with Wilder 18 months ago in only his eighth fight is quite the feat and not something the likes of Anthony Joshua or Daniel Dubois could say.
The victory earns ‘The Juggernaut’ a shot at WBA regular world title holder Manuel Charr and moves him closer to his ambition of an-all British showdown with Joshua later down the line.