Joe Joyce is an easy person to root for. The 35-year-old heavyweight boxer has a laid-back demeanour and does not rely on false bravado to sell his talent.
And yet his win over the highly fancied Daniel Dubois last November has put him into rarefied air in the heavyweight division.
Joyce says it almost jokingly, but he is two fights away from being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Up first will be Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian cruiserweight champion set to come to London to take on Joyce in what will be an interim fight for the WBO world title.
Win that and Joyce would be next in line to take on whoever emerges from the British super fight the world has been waiting for between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.
“It’s so exciting, the thought that potentially in two fights I could be undefeated, undisputed,” said Joyce, who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo.
“From beating Dubois I’m in a great position now. It’s such a great feeling. Now this year is looking good.”
The fight with Usyk, which promoter Frank Warren has been pushing hard for, would be a rematch, with the pair having previously faced off as amateurs in the World Series of Boxing.
That was back in 2013, when the then-Olympic champion Usyk got the better of Joyce on home soil. Despite the defeat, it remains one of the Brit’s favourite fights.
He said: “The first fight in WSB, I thought it was a close fight, it was an exciting fight. Perhaps I was a bit too raw at the time.
“I’ve watched the fight back. It’s doing quite well, I think it’s got a million views. It’s a great fight, there’s plenty of exchanges but you could see Usyk was the better fighter. It’s interesting because he’s the smaller, faster, lighter fighter against the bigger, stronger fighter. I was throwing loads of punches, just pumping them out so it was an exciting fight.
“The support there, with the Ukraine fans roaring ‘Usyk, Usyk’ with the drums as well. I really enjoyed that fight, even though I lost. It was one of those that I really enjoyed and I can’t wait to do it again over the longer rounds. Because 12 rounds with the pro gloves, it’s a lot different.
“It’s in the process, it’s in the works. I’ve not heard anything from Usyk or his team. But the WBO want it, I’m sure the fans want it, I want it. I’m not sure if Usyk wants it. But what other fight has he got?”
Taking on a lighter, nimbler opponent will be a change for Joyce, who used his own superior footwork and endurance to get the better of the hard-hitting Dubois in November.
After a brief trip to Dubai following that win, he is back in training and starting to build up again in preparation for Usyk.
And he will also be keeping a close eye on the two Joshua-Fury fights that are in the works, not just because he could take on the victor.
Joyce loves the sport and is happy to give his verdict on what would be the biggest heavyweight encounter in at least two decades.
He added: “I can’t wait to see that fight and see how they get on. Originally, I edged with Joshua but now I’m edging with Fury. Especially based on their last three performances. But you never know, it only takes one punch in boxing.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with AJ on GB. He’s got a good high guard, it’s a very conventional boxing style. He’s super powerful. I’ve seen him in the gym lifting some big boy weights. He’s got speed as well, he can put the combinations together, he’s got great upper cuts. And he’s a specimen, he’s tall, he’s got quite a long reach as well.
“Fury is even taller with an even longer reach. His skills are just unbelievable. He’s the opposite, he’s definitely unorthodox. He has low hands, and he has his head movement and footwork, he’s unpredictable. Some combinations he can hit you with, you think ‘what did he just do?’. He throws a combination and you’re asking ‘where did I get hit?’. And he’s got the flicker jab as well. He’s changed his style a bit, especially with his last fight against Wilder, he just took it to him. He’s got that where he can get the ugly, horrible finish. So the two coming together will be an amazing fight.”
And does he have a preference if he can get past Usyk?
He concluded: “They are both hard fights. They are both 50/50 fights. Usyk is a 50/50 fight, Dubois was a 50/50 fight. It just gets harder from here on in.”
Joe Joyce is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube .