JOE JOYCE CARRYING out his best work on canvas is not an unusual concept. After all, 11 of his 12 professional opponents to date have met with the floor of the ring or been saved from the imminent prospect by the instincts of a protective referee.
But Big Joe is also big into transferring his visions, experiences, and emotions onto the fabric favored by painters and artists, with the man known as The Juggernaut just as content quietly perching in front of his easel as he is marching forward with menacing intent under the lights in the ring.
The more than accomplished artist is particularly proud of his latest works. Not exactly painting by numbers, but the No.10 figures strongly in this very personal portrait.
It is a painting that tells the story of his November 28, 2020, heavyweight collision with the multi-titled, seemingly indestructible wrecking machine, Daniel Dubois.
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In the eyes of the watching public, Joyce got the sense that he was merely cast as another step on the gloried career ladder of the young world champion in waiting.
While he never doubted himself – and nor should he have, given his Olympic standing – Joyce accepted his role as a decorated underdog and knew the proof of the pudding would be in the punching.
And his jab, which essentially won him the fight, was on point, and Dubois could take no more of the spearing accuracy and sunk to his knee in the 10th round to take himself out of the firing line. His left eye socket that had taken a pummeling from the left glove of Joyce was grotesquely swollen, and his race was run.
The plaudits, along with belts, now belonged to Joyce and his portrait marks this moment in time for one of boxing’s quiet achievers.
“It was a turning point for me, where I went from an underdog to pretty much a fully-fledged prospect,” explained the 35-year-old, who returns to the fighting fold against Carlos Takam at the SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday night. “It was a fight where everyone thought I was going to lose and even get knocked out in the first few rounds.
“I proved a lot of people wrong and won a lot of people money for Christmas.”
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The fact that many of the fight public and pundits didn’t give him a prayer, Joyce believes, worked in his favor on the night, with the weight of expectation heaped firmly on the young man.
“Yeah, it was less pressure, and the heat was on Dubois. I’ve been in a lot bigger fights, the Olympics, for instance, with many people watching me, so I am used to the pressure. I get on with it and perform on the night.
“The painting definitely reflects my moment, but I don’t know if it is quite finished yet. I look at it and think I could do more detail, but then I might lose some of the freshness of it. Maybe I have captured it,” he wondered before telling the process of how he went about capturing the defining point of the fight.
“I just printed off an image, but I didn’t have a particularly good picture because it was from a clip of the fight, and it was a bit pixelated, so I couldn’t get all the detail I wanted. It does get to the point when you can overdo a painting, and it is quite good to know when to stop. Otherwise, you can ruin the essence of what you are trying to paint.
“I can push my work to being almost photo-realistic by painstakingly painting, but it just takes so long, and you can get bored of painting the same thing. More recently, I have preferred to work it all out in one sitting.
“You don’t want it to be too perfect, or you might as well just blow up a photograph.”
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This isn’t Joyce’s first venture into personal portraits, and it almost certainly won’t be his last.
“The last time I did a self-portrait was my first year of university, and I had some massive canvas that one of the students in the third year helped me make. It ended up being so big that it was wider than my outstretched arms and almost as tall as me.
“I will do one for the world title, for sure.
“The thing is, with boxing and painting, it takes time, and you have to work at your skills.”