Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce
Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce will link up as sparring partners to prime each other for their high-stakes heavyweight clashes.
Joshua is expected to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev on December 12, and Joyce will meet his fellow unbeaten British contender Daniel Dubois.
Representatives of Joshua and Joyce confirmed to Sky Sports that they would share a ring again to aid each other preparations.
They have shared hundreds of rounds of sparring across many years as they came through Team GB’s amateur programme, although Joyce has more recently sparred with Tyson Fury in the US.
“There’ve been many bruising sessions over the years,” promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports about Joshua and Joyce’s history.
“Joe has been around for many years on the amateur scene. When AJ was coming through, Joe was one of the experienced guys and some of their spars have been fantastic.
“Obviously AJ went to another level, but Joe is still an outstanding heavyweight.”
Joshua won the super-heavyweight gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Joyce represented Team GB four years later in Rio and took home silver after controversially losing the final to France’s Tony Yoka.
Joshua and Joyce’s paths will now cross again.
“I think the research will be in place to identify probably half a dozen sparring partners that will be the right style for Pulev,” said Hearn.
“The sparring for Andy Ruiz, first time around, was so difficult because we had five weeks to find a short – sorry Andy – tubby, fast heavyweight with great movement. It’s very, very difficult to find.
“We got it perfectly right for the rematch. We really brought in five or six guys that had the speed, had the movement, and replicated the style.”
One of Joshua’s sparring partners for the Ruiz Jr rematch was Timothy Moten who quit two jobs and bombarded Hearn on social media to get the opportunity.
Moten told Sky Sports: “I know, as a shorter fighter, how to take heat off shots. I saw him hit people with shots and take them off their feet. AJ’s sharpness was crazy.
“If AJ was ever hit, he would fix the problem and never be hit by that same shot again.
“You have to go hard in sparring otherwise, in a fight, it will be foreign to you.
“The last four weeks of sparring got extremely difficult. I sparred him on the Wednesday before the fight. By that time, the sharpness of his shots was great.
“I got hit with a body shot that hurt and a straight right hand that hurt.”
Joyce previously told Sky Sports about sparring the world heavyweight champion: “I used to love sparing with Joshua. Sometimes we used to go at it, toe-to-toe, really connecting.”
But sparring partners of a more conventional physique and style will be required to replicate Pulev, whose only career defeat came against Wladimir Klitschko, and who has beaten Derek Chisora and Hughie Fury.
“Against Pulev, it’s a little bit easier,” Hearn said about the search for sparring partners.
“Taller, stand up, more of a European style, traditional heavyweight and they’ve already identified a lot of those guys to get in.
“Camp is underway, to be honest. Camp has been underway for the last few weeks. He’ll be moving up to Sheffield soon. I’ve not seen him this excited for a long time.”