World champion boxer Natasha Jonas reckons that Joe Joyce deserves a shot at a heavyweight world title if he can overcome the challenge of Zhilei Zhang at the Cooper Box Arena in London on Saturday night.
An Olympic silver medallist, Joyce has won all 15 of his fights since turning pro in 2017 and he’s emerged as one of the most exciting heavyweights around at the moment, handing former world champion Joseph Parker the first knockout defeat of his career in Manchester last September.
Joyce has been mentioned as a potential opponent for heavyweight juggernauts Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk if he can bypass the challenge of serial knockout artist Zhang, something which Jonas feels he’s ready for.
Speaking at the Grand Women’s Summit at Aintree on Friday, she said: “I think Joe Joyce wins. One of Joe’s biggest assets is his engine and his output, how he starts round one is the same as how he finishes round 12 and we’ve seen throughout his career that nobody can hack it.
“He was someone I was close to on Team GB and worked alongside, so I know how hard he trains and how much work he puts in and he’ll be going out on Saturday to win.
“I think if he wins again on Saturday, he definitely puts himself in the conversation for a world title. When you’re talking about the top heavyweights, he’s right up there and could possibly be in the top five around right now. He’ll be right up there with all the big names and all the big money, which he deserves.”
Jonas was a panellist at the seventh annual Grand Women’s Summit at Aintree, where the topic of discussion was menstrual health in sport and the challenges of playing sport on your period.
Such topics are still seen as something of a taboo and Jonas feels that events like this can only help open lines of conversation. She said: “It was great to be on the panel again this year. Some of the most important conversations are the ones that need having the most, but when it’s a taboo subject nobody likes bringing it up. Menstrual health is a personal thing, so it can be difficult to bring up especially if you’re in a male-dominated sphere and you have a female issue.
“To be able to get it out in the open and hear and share people’s stories is great and it helps build that understanding which is needed.”