England’s Joe Joyce, the 2016 super heavyweight silver medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, will make his professional debut on Oct. 20 at the O2 Arena’s Club Indigo in London, Ringstar Sports promoter Richard Schaefer told ESPN on Monday
Schaefer signed Joyce to a co-promotional deal along with former heavyweight titlist David Haye’s Hayemaker Promotions earlier this year and he will turn pro on the first card of their joint venture, Haymaker Ringstar Promotions.
The 6-foor-6 Joyce, getting a late start in the pros at age 31, lost a controversial split decision to France’s Tony Yoka in the Olympic final. Schaefer also signed Yoka (1-0, 1 KO) and said he hopes to pair them in a rematch down the road, but first comes Joyce’s pro debut. He will face Ian Lewison in a scheduled 10-round bout, Schaefer said.
Boxers typically turn pro in a four- or six-round fight, but Joyce and his team feel he is advanced enough to begin in a scheduled 10-round bout.
Joyce is not turning pro against a walkover opponent, as is usually the case for a high-profile fighter coming into the pro ranks. Lewison (12-3-1, 8 KOs), 35, of England, has faced some recognizable opponents, including owning a third-round knockout win against Timo Hoffmann. In his last fight, 13 months ago, Lewison challenged contender Dillian Whyte for the vacant British heavyweight title and took him into the 10th round before being stopped.
“We’re very excited for Joe to get his pro career started,” Schaefer said. “In his second fight, there’s a good chance he will already go for the Commonwealth title. As his trainer, Ismael Salas, told me, he believes that within six or seven fights Joe will be ready to fight for a world title. Everybody keeps telling me how good this guy is, and he had the amateur record to prove it.”
Also turning professional on the card will be 18-year-old middleweight Willy Hutchinson, one of the most decorated Scottish amateurs in history, Schaefer said. Hutchinson, managed by Hall of Famer Shelly Finkel, one of the most successful managers in boxing history, will face an opponent to be determined in a six-round fight, Schaefer said.
The card will be televised in the United Kingdom on Dave TV as part of a three-year deal Schaefer and Haye signed earlier this year with UKTV, its parent company and the biggest multichannel broadcaster in the U.K.