Chief support on the ‘Celtic Clash 6’ bill at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh, Joyce was given the star treatment with an extended entrance – lights off in the hall and lights on on his death mask.
It wasn’t all for show either, with the Lucan welterweight taking on a genuinely tough fight against Bulgarian Angel Emilov who has tested and shocked prospects in the past.
And test Joyce he did, with Emilov pushing the Irish Army corporal to whole way, eventually being edged out by a point (58-57).
The Tony Davitt managed and trained puncher was a worthy winner in what could be described as the perfect learning fight.
“I get a lot from it, confidence and learning,” he told Irish-Boxing.com in the dressing room afterwards.
“It was a big step up, he’s been in with a lot of decent guys. I think the only person that’s stopped him has been Sam Maxwell.”
“He was very tough, my hardest fight, definitely, by far. He was coming to beat me and there was no stopping him – he was trading, hard.”
An exhausting fight, Joyce noted how “he was a lot bigger than me as well. I think he fights at light middle and I’m closer to light welter. I make the weight for welter handy.”
“I was as strong as him but – normally when I’m fighting lads at my weight I can push them around more – it was harder with him, it was harder to push him back.”
“I learnt that I’ve a great core too! It’s funny, I’m the one that’s known for throwing bodyshots but I took a lot of bodyshots there.”
In the firing line, Joyce showed aspects of his game that hadn’t been seen before.
While it was a toe-to-toe slugfest for much of the contest, the 31-year-old was able to go on the back foot at times, taking a breather and scoring well from range.
“It’s something that I’ve been trying to work on,” he explained.
“Me and Tony had a plan going out there – to keep changing the gears in the fight, fight outside, fight inside, I wanted to show everything, that I can fight while still throwing loads of jabs, that I can come in and come out.”
“I wanted to show that I’m not just a go-forward fighter.”
After such a gruelling fight, will it be an easier one next, perhaps?
“I doubt it,” laughs Joyce. “With Tony? Are you joking me!?”
“Every fight he’s trying to move me up. You always hear about lads protecting their 0s, I’m not, I’m developing as a pro.”
“I’ll take a big fight when a big fight needs to be taking – not when people are calling other people out or talking shite on Facebook or whatever. I don’t get into that, that’s not the sort of person I am.
“I do what Tony tells me to do and I work on what we work on.”
“If you look at all the best fighters in the world, look at who they fight, they take it slowly by slowly, and then they take the ‘big’ fight. That’s the way I’m doing it and it’s working out.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)