David Haye fears former protege Joe Joyce will be “chucked onto the scrapheap” because of his age if he loses to Daniel Dubois in their long-awaited heavyweight showdown on Saturday night.
After three postponements this year due to the coronavirus pandemic the pair will finally square off at London’s Church House, with Dubois’ British title, Joyce’s Commonwealth crown and the vacant European belt at stake.
Both fighters are unbeaten, while they have each stopped all but one of their professional opponents inside the distance, and whoever prevails this weekend will be clamouring for a world title opportunity at some point in 2021.
While Dubois, 23, has time on his side to bounce back if he is beaten, the same can hardly be said for Joyce, 12 years older and at an age where many fighters have already bowed out of the sport or are contemplating retirement.
It is for that reason that Haye, a former cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion who promoted Joyce at the start of his professional career three years ago, feels the Rio 2016 silver medallist cannot afford to be defeated.
Haye told the PA news agency: “There’s opportunities out there for the winner of this fight to catapult themselves into world title contention. There’s so much to fight for.
“I think there’s more to fight for for Joyce because of his age. Joyce losing aged 35… he’ll get chucked onto the scrapheap. The reason they’ll say he got beat is, ‘he’s too old. his prime was at the Olympics’.
“I lost my first professional fight aged 24 and by the time I was 27 I was number one in the world in the cruiserweight division, holding the WBO, WBA, WBC titles and I was Ring Magazine champion.
“A loss for Dubois isn’t as catastrophic as it would be for Joyce. It’s more of a must-win for Joyce than it is for Dubois, who can come again. He really can, he’s young enough to come again.”
Preparations have been far from smooth for Joyce, whose trainer Ismael Salas will not be ringside after testing positive for coronavirus. Salas has not come into contact with Joyce since October so the fight is not in jeopardy.
Joyce (11-0, 10KOs), who will have Steve Broughton and Jimmy Tibbs in his corner, is the underdog with bookmakers, despite his amateur pedigree and a similarly stellar start to his professional journey as Dubois (15-0, 14 KOs).
Haye, speaking in his role as a BT commentator, said: “I don’t know why that is. Maybe they prefer Dubois’ youth and spectacular knockout victories. I think it’s crazy to have Joyce as an underdog in this fight.
“Joyce as an amateur and professional has fought and won at a much higher level.
“It doesn’t automatically mean he’ll beat Dubois because of that but it just means he’s more battle-tested and will be walking to the ring with confidence that Dubois needs to do something he’s never done before.”
:: BT Sport’s night of heavyweight boxing action on November 28 begins with Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce on BT Sport 1 from 7:30pm. Tyson v Jones Jr will be live on BT Sport Box Office from 1am and can be watched on BT TV, Virgin TV, Sky, online via the web or the BT Sport Box Office App. To order both fights visit btsport.com/boxing