Joe Joyce wasn’t perfect but he was much too much for Christian Hammer.
Joyce put his overmatched opponent down four times before the fight was stopped in the fourth round of a scheduled 12-rounder Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley.
The unbeaten heavyweight contender hadn’t been in the ring since he stopped Carlos Takam in six rounds almost exactly a year ago.
He was expected to face former titleholder Joseph Parker in what would’ve been an important fight between elite big men but Parker pulled out and was replaced by Hammer, a durable 34-year-journeyman who has lost his biggest fights.
Joe Joyce celebrates his own way after stopping Christian Hammer. James Chance / Getty Images
Joyce (14-0, 13 KOs) looked in the first few rounds like someone who hadn’t fought in a year. He came out firing, as “Juggernaut” always does, but Hammer (27-10, 17 KOs) landed a series of hard right hands that got everyone’s attention.
The 36-year-old Londoner began to find a grove and Hammer began to fade by Round 3, though.
In the final seconds of that round a grazing punch from Joyce to the top or back of Hammer’s head put him onto one knee for the first of the four knockdowns.
The onslaught got underway in earnest about 15 seconds into Round 4, when a body shot again forced Hammer to take a knee. He took a knee a third time as a result of a flurry of shots. And he got into his familiar position once more after taking a vicious left to the gut.
And that was it. Referee Phil Austin had seen enough and stopped the fight. The official time was 1:20 of Round 4.
Thus, Joyce, ranked No. 1 by the WBO and No. 2 by the WBC, solidified his position as a legitimate title challenger. When he will get a shot at a major belt is anyone’s guess.
He has reserved Sept. 24 as the date of his next fight, although he has yet to secure an opponent. He hopes his big opportunity will come after that, perhaps against the winner the Aug. 20 rematch between titleholder Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua.
“I’m top level,” Joyce said. “I’m ready for the world stage. I’m a proper heavyweight. I’m fit, I got an engine, I got a chin, a big heart and big cojones, as well. I’m ready for all comers. I’m looking to fight possibly the winner of the AJ-Usyk fight or maybe [WBC beltholder] Tyson Fury.
“I’m at that level. It’s a shame Parker couldn’t make it tonight. Let’s see what happens.”
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