By Barry Holbrook: Unbeaten heavyweight contender Joe Joyce was impressed with his sparring session against UFC champion Francis Ngannou, and he’d like to face him in a boxing match at some point.
With the advanced ages of the 36-year-old Ngannou and the 37-year-old Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs), they’ll need to fight soon because it won’t be worth it if they’re in their 40s and too old to interest the fans.
The 2016 Olympic silver medalist Joyce is still waiting for a world title shot despite being fast-tracked after turning professional in 2017. Although Joyce is ranked #1 with the WBO, he probably won’t get a title shot next year and will likely need to wait until 2024 before he gets a crack at a belt.
By that time, Joyce will be 39 years old and maybe too old to win a belt against whoever holds the WBO title.
“It was a good experience to spar him. He’s a freak of nature. He’s got phenomenal power,” said Joyce to Give Me Sport about Francis Ngannou. “Most of the time, I was trying to get away from those power shots to avoid getting my head taken off.”
It would be difficult for Ngannou to transition into boxing at his age. In the early rounds, Ngannou would be dangerous for anyone, but he’ll likely quickly gas out and have problems taking headshots.
With the easy money that Ngannou is making in the UFC against fighters with poor fistic skills, he’s not going to want to transition over to boxing and start from the bottom, making small money against club fighters. It would be too drastic of a pay cut for Ngannoou to want to move to boxing.
Where Ngannou could make some money is if he takes on one of the champions like Tyson Fury in a boxing match. Fans would want to see it, as it would be an oddity similar to the exhibition matches between Floyd Mayweather Jr and YouTubers.
“I’d love to fight him, though, but let’s keep it simple with boxing. The UFC is too much, man. Credit to all those guys because they have to train so hard in all these different areas,” continued Joyce about his desire to face Ngannou.
“They have to be so well-rounded in the kicking, the striking, the grappling, and the submissions and all that, so it’s a lot you have to train for,” said Joyce.