Rising British heavyweight Joe Joyce continued his assent towards a world title shot with an entertaining fourth-round stoppage of veteran Christian Hammer on Saturday night. ‘The Juggernaut’ had the thirty-four-year-old down on the canvas a total of four times on the way to victory, once in the third and three times in the fourth as he maintained his place atop of the WBO’s heavyweight rankings.
Hammer did land several big overhand rights early on however, with Joyce displaying his robust chin yet again as he continued to walk the veteran down in search of his thirteenth professional knockout in just fourteen fights. Carl Frampton was cautious in his praise while on commentary duty however, encouraging the Rio 2016 silver medallist to tighten up on his defence as he continues to step up against higher calibre fighters. While the thirty-six-year-old Joyce hadn’t landed anything of note up until the third, it was the frantic pace he was setting that looked to be troubling Hammer who looked almost certain to empty his gas tank imminently. The breakthrough came late in the third, with Hammer succumbing to the pressure he was being forced under by taking a knee in the neutral corner. The bell saved him but the fourth offered little respite as Joyce continued to pummel combinations upon the away man who was breathing heavily by this point. Twenty seconds into the round and Hammer was down again, a right hook to the body followed by a right upstairs forcing him to his knees. The German-based fighter bravely rove to his feet but the onslaught continued as another combination forced him to his knees. He again rose but moments later a straight right followed by a beautifully timed left to the body had Hammer down for a final time, with referee Victor Loughlin having seen enough, waving the fight off almost immediately. Joyce now looks to be in pole position to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of the upcoming rematch between champion Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua and will no doubt prove a difficult puzzle to solve for almost any heavyweight out there.
Saturday’s undercard also saw the return of Zolani Tete in his first fight on British soil in three years as he dismantled the in-form Jason Cunningham to claim the Doncaster man’s Commonwealth super-bantamweight title. The South African Tete looked sharp from the off as he settled behind his southpaw jab, displaying superb accuracy in the opening rounds.
Cunningham was showing flashes but struggled to settle into a rhythm as the pinpoint jab of Tete continued to disrupt his groove and kept him guessing. The fight was no doubt under the control of the South African whose world-level capabilities were clear for all to see, and was put to bed in the fourth after a beautiful straight left counter caught the chin of the Doncaster man and left him on the seat of his trunks in the opening ten seconds. Upon the restart, Tete set about his man and the writing looked to be on the wall, particularly given the devastating knockout power Tete is known to possess. The crucial moment came just twenty seconds later after several big hooks landed flush with no response from the champion, and a big left firmly planted Cunningham down again, the sound of his head crashing against the canvas sending shockwaves around the arena. Referee Howard Foster wove the fight off immediately, with attention turning to the fallen Brit who looked to be in some trouble. Thankfully the British Boxing Board of Control medical officials were typically on the scene within seconds, providing oxygen to Cunningham who was pictured sitting up on his stool minutes later. It was a devastating performance by Tete who firmly announced himself back on the world super-bantamweight scene.
Further down the card, Mark Chamberlain put in the best performance of his ten fight career so far with a wide unanimous points decision victory over former European champion Marc Vidal, with all three judges finding the Portsmouth man a winner of all ten rounds on the night. Chamberlain showed excellent accuracy all night against a brave Vidal who showed an astonishing chin and one could be forgiven for predicting the twenty-three-year-old to be much further along in his development than he is. Norfolk cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher ended his professional debut in style with a first-round blowout of Aron Vrnoga who found himself on the canvas twice prior to the stoppage. Fletcher’s heavy hands were clearly on show and his 6’7 frame more than suggests a big future among the heavyweight scene as he continues to grow into his man strength. 154-pound prospect Micky Burke emerged from a tough six-round contest versus Serge Ambomo in a fight that will no doubt have aided his professional development on Saturday night. Burke started the contest well before the Cameroonian Ambomo clawed his way back into the fight, letting his hands go on several occasions with Burke proving too easy to find. The twenty-one-year-old emerged a comfortable winner on the cards in the end but valuable lessons will have been learned in just his seventh professional outing. Henry Turner also impressed at super-lightweight with a six-round whitewash of Jakub Laskowski.