Boxing: Joe Joyce is ready to step up and fight ‘friend’ Tyson Fury in Feburary

Heavyweight contender Joe Joyce wants to fight Tyson Fury in Feburary if the WBC world champion cannot agree a mandatory defence against Dillian Whyte, telling the Gypsy King ‘my schedule is free’.

Joyce is one of the rising stars in the division having continued his unbeaten start as a professional by stopping the highly-rated Daniel Dubois last year, and followed that up by knocking out the experienced Carlos Takam this summer.

He is a friend of Fury and has sparred with him in the past, but said that wouldn’t stop him wanting to face off against him in the ring with a world title up for grabs, and is keen to arrange a fight depending on the outcome of Whyte’s legal challenge to force Fury into a showdown.

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Heavyweight star Joe Joyce says he is happy to step up and fight Tyson Fury next February 

Joyce is a friend and former sparring partner of Fury’s but is keen for a world title shot

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The WBC refused to name Whyte as their mandatory to take on Fury next as they await the decision from an arbitration against them as the Body Snatcher seeks a shot against his fellow Brit.

Whyte has been seeking a title challenge for a lengthy period – exceeding more than 1,000 days as the governing body’s No 1 challenger – and has now taken matters further to ensure he moves front of the queue.

But should he fail, Joyce is ready to step in, admitting he ‘respects’ Fury but urged his rival to consider him.

‘The Juggernaut’ is a rising star in the sport and defeated highly-rated Daniel Dubois last year

He could have a chance to step up in Dillian Whyte fails to secure a mandatory title challenge

He wrote on Twitter: ‘I have got lots of respect for Tyson Fury as a friend and as a fighter, but my schedule is free in February. Let’s do this!’ 

‘The Juggernaut’ – ranked as No 1 challenger with the WBO and No 2 challenger with the WBC – is desperate to keep proving himself and last week tweeted: ‘I will get my shot! It’s just a matter of time.’

Fury would be wary of Joyce after complimenting his fellow heavyweight and calling him ‘the best one out there’ in a conversation with his promoter Frank Warren. 

‘I was talking to Tyson about him,’ Warren told Sky Sports. ‘Tyson said that he’s the best one out there. That’s what Tyson’s opinion was.

‘Can he go all the way? Yes he can. He’s got a good ticker, a big heart. He’s strong, he walks forwards, he is the ‘Juggernaut’. 

Fury previously said Joyce is ‘the best heavyweight out there’ as he looks for a new opponent

‘Whoever he’s in there with, you know they will have a problem getting rid of him. He’s a tough guy. He can fight a bit. He can punch.’ 

Fury himself boosted Joyce’s hopes of facing him by insisting he would fight ‘who is available and what makes sense’.

‘I’m just chilling, enjoying life, taking one day at a time, and enjoying myself,’ Fury told Sky Sports as he attended BOXXER Fight Night in Wembley.

‘I’m not really interested, because to be honest it doesn’t really make much sense who I want to fight at this moment. It’s who’s available and what makes sense later on.’

Whyte launched a legal challenge against the WBC and is awaiting an arbitration’s decision 

Joyce will be hoping Whyte’s legal challenge collapses, although his promoter Eddie Hearn said he was confident it would suceed in an interview with iFL TV.

‘I think the truth is, without the lawsuit, would he [Dillian Whyte] have even been called for the mandatory by the WBC? I think the answer is probably no or certainly not with the terms that he would want.

‘The legal case and the arbitration has to make its decision, and we believe it’ll be a more favourable decision than what it would be for a standard WBC ruling.

‘The WBC said yesterday, “We can’t make a ruling because of this ongoing situation”. I get it. We’re very confident the ruling will be in the best interest of Dillian Whyte, bearing in mind the circumstances, and he will be called the mandatory challenger to Tyson Fury.’  

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