It’s fair to say that 2022 could be a blockbuster year for British heavyweight boxing.

Come the year’s end, Tyson Fury could well be the unified champion – the first in the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis in the late 1990s. But first, he may have to overcome fellow Englishman, Dillian Whyte, if terms can be agreed.

The identity of Fury’s opponent for undisputed status is not yet known. Oleksandr Usyk holds the WBA, IFB, WBO, and IBO gold after defeating Anthony Joshua in September, and it seems increasingly likely that the Ukrainian will face the former champion in a rematch at some point this year. The boxing betting odds for that scrap make Usyk a -225 favorite, with Joshua’s stock fallen so far since defeats to the 35-year-old and Andy Ruiz Jr that he’s now considered a +175 underdog.

So Fury vs Usyk for all the marbles could be the icing on the cake of a stellar year, with a summer showdown between the pair – possibly in Las Vegas, possibly at London’s Wembley Stadium – seeming the most likely options.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other British heavyweights jostling for the limelight. Daniel Dubois has blasted his way to a position of authority in the WBA rankings, and a showdown with the regular champion Trevor Bryan now seems a certainty. Tyson’s cousin Hughie Fury is ranked fourth by the WBA, and he will be watching on with interest.

And that’s before we even come to mentioning Joe Joyce, the quiet man of the heavyweight picture. Unbeaten in 13 outings and with victories over Dubois, Carlos Takam, and Bryant Jennings on his resumé, Joyce has a tremendous record for such a professional novice, and yet he is rarely mentioned as a potential world champion.

Perhaps 2022 will be the year that all changes…

The Art of the Sweet Science

A university graduate with a degree in fine arts, Joe Joyce’s route into boxing has been an unusual one – in fact, he didn’t even attend the gym until he had turned 22, and only then because injuries prevented him from becoming an elite-level track and field athlete.

Seven years after lacing up his gloves for the first time, Joyce was competing in the Commonwealth Games – he won the gold medal in the super-heavyweight category, and just two years later he was clinching an Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro.

With a vaunted amateur record in which he achieved so much in such a short space of time, the now 36-year-old turned pro in 2017 and has barely had a glove laid on him since, defeating a series of former world titleholders or challengers.

Without the bombastic hype machine of Eddie Hearn and Sky Sports behind him, Joyce has been grinding away with Frank Warren pulling the strings of a career which looks ready for the stratosphere. Ranked as the mandatory challenger for the WBO title, he may have to be diligent in his pursuit of gold while the Usyk, Fury, Joshua triangle plays out, but you can rest assured that Joyce will be waiting patiently in the background.

The quiet man looks ready to roar in 2022.

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