The professional boxing business can be a dirty one. It’s a cut-throat sport and having a team that looks out for your best interests is a crucial – but often absent – ingredient for success.
Thankfully, John Joyce is one of the lucky ones as he enters into his second year as a professional boxer.
The Lucan welterweight fights for the sixth time on Saturday, June 16 on the ‘Celtic Clash 6’ card at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh and, had it not been for his cautious and caring manager, he could have found himself in over his head.
The possibility of a BUI Celtic title shot had been floated versus experienced champion Jay Byrne – who has fought multiple times on television won the belt last year when he knocked out Joyce’s team-mate Crank Whitehouse. Being a fighter, Joyce, unsurprisingly, was up for the challenge but was, wisely, reined in by his experienced trainer and manager Tony Davitt.
31-year-old Joyce, a refreshingly open and honest character in a sport of bravado and secrecy, explained how “Tony and myself have had a few chats about it. Obviously I would take a title fight now if I could. Jay suggested a title fight and I would love that but Tony thinks it’s too soon. I’m still inexperienced and a novice pro so he wants me to have an eight rounder before any title fights. Who knows maybe after that but I understand and listen to everything Tony tells me.”
The two share a close relationship, with Davitt being the man to pluck Joyce – then an unknown amateur – from obscurity and turn him pro. Since debuting in May of last year, the Dubliner has scored five wins, including three knockouts, and was one of the stand-out prospects from an unprecedented year where almost 40 new boxers turned pro.
The Irish Army corporal credits Davitt for everything and described how “Tony has been so good to me and has been like a second dad. I trust him completely, nobody else would have given me the shot he has so what he says goes even if I don’t like it! I’m really happy to be busy because it’s just helping me develop as a pro. I feel like I am learning all the time.”
Davitt is old-school, a septuagenarian, and is not adverse to doling out tough love. This was apparent in Joyce’s most recent fight in March versus Tomasz Goluch where, following two sloppy rounds, the coach gave Joyce a wake-up call.
“Tony gave me a smack, a full force smack, at the end of the second round and, I’m not going to lie, it woke me up,” Joyce recalls with a smirk. “I went out in the third round like he told me to do and I put him away. I needed that slap to wake me up! That wasn’t my best performance, at all. I feel I could have done a lot better. I know I controlled the fight but some of the shots I got caught with, I was saying to myself ‘I shouldn’t have got caught with that, I shouldn’t have got caught with that’. I did the job, that’s the main thing. But, if I was at my best, which I don’t feel I was, that fight would’ve been over in the first round.”
Older than most new pros – and definitely more mature – Joyce can acknowledge his flaws and is keen to develop before he eventually gets his shot at a title. This journey continues on June 16th in Dublin 12 and ‘The Demogorgon’ outlined how “Tony has the opponent – but I don’t mind who I face as long as I get a good fight and I learn as much as I can from it. I treat every fight as a world title fight and this won’t be any different. I will win. We will see on the night how it plays out but a win for me is my prediction.”
“I feel I have had a good year and about three more fights than I thought I would but I’m not complaining at all. I am progressing nicely and I feel like a completely different fighter to this time last year, I’m fitter, stronger, and faster and I’m only getting better. A title, that’s all I’m focused on for this year and I hope it comes.”
Also featuring on the ‘Celtic Clash 6’ undercard alongside Joyce will be Blanchardstown cruiserweight Chris Scuvie, Crumlin super featherweight Aiden Metcalfe, Smithfield welterweight Keane McMahon, Ballybrack lightweight Niall O’Connor, Cavan light middleweight Owen Duffy, Waterford welterweight Rohan Daté, Sallynoggin super feather Stephen McAfee, and a BUI Celtic super bantamweight title fight between Jobstown’s Carl McDonald and Youghal’s Colin O’Donovan. The show is headlined by RTÉ pundit and current BUI Celtic featherweight champion Eric Donovan.
Tickets for the fight night are priced at €55 (ringside), €35 (unreserved) and are available from the boxers involved. John Joyce can be contacted at 086 1900 203.