New pro John Joyce – “The Army has made me a hard person”

John Joyce openly admits that Irish boxing fans may not have heard of his name, indeed if you were to Google it you would find his Elite amateur namesake from St Michael’s Athy – however the Lucan welterweight promises that his name will soon become known.

The Dubliner has turned professional under veteran manager and trainer Tony Davitt, and will make his debut on the inaugural It’s A Bout Boxing Ireland card at the National Stadium on Saturday April 1st.

It’s all come round very quick for a man who only took up the sport four years ago, and has only been preparing for pro life since last August.

Joyce, who turned 30 this week, spoke to Irish-Boxing.com at the It’s A Bout Boxing Ireland press conference in Dublin, and paid tribute for Davitt for plucking him from relative obscurity and moulding him into a pro fighter.

“I’ve always had a heavy shot,” he explained. “I’ve always been a heavy hitter. But, because I wasn’t boxing that long, I never had the control that I’m getting now with Tony.”

“He’s teaching me so much. He’s teaching me how to sit down on my shots properly., controlling my shots, my shots are becoming more accurate. He’s working with me one on one, pushing me to my absolute limits and I’m learning so much off him.”

“I’m privileged that he has taken me on to be honest. He’s absolutely brilliant, the man has so much boxing knowledge. It’s crazy. He’s so patient with me, but even then his patience gets a bit lost some times! He gives out to me for the most minute things, he picks up on the tiniest things. He’s a perfectionist and I don’t mind that because it helps me improve, it makes me a better boxer.”

“I’m adapting to it so quick. I’ve only been at it [pro boxing] since August and I feel that I’ve been at it a year or two.”

For his part, Davitt feels he has found a diamond in the rough in the former Lucan and Esker amateur. Indeed it is rare to see the selective manager, who also looks after the careers of Gerard Whitehouse and Stephen Carroll, so excited about a new signing.

An intensely driven individual, Joyce is looking to make a splash in the pro game and is not worried by any doubters who dismiss his background.

He admits that “I wouldn’t be too well known in the amateur game but, to be honest, I don’t care about that because I’m willing to do everything I can to really make a name for myself over my next few fights.”

“I want to stay as busy as possible, I want to make a name for myself, and I want to show people what I can do. Eventually I want to be up there with the best in Ireland. That’s what I want, I want to go as far as I can.”

Coming into a sport such as boxing in your mid 20s would be intimidating to most, but Joyce, who is a Corporal in the Irish Army, recalled how he was well able to take a few knocks because of chosen profession.

“I had to push hard but I got there eventually,” outlined the former Dublin and Leinster champion.

“I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been in the Army for ten years and I think it was bred into me to be ‘tough,’ and I know that sounds like a cliché.”

“The Army has made me a hard person. I was getting into the ring with these 16 and 17 year olds, when I first started boxing, and they were beating the crap out of me – but, I wanted to be better than them. I progressed, and progressed, and progressed, and it got to the stage where these young fellas had 20 fights more than me and I was starting to beat the living daylights out of them.”

“I have got the backing of the Irish Army. They’re great, they’re on board with me, they’re helping me out, and the Director of Sport is eager to come watch me on my debut.”

Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey look ahead to 2017 in episode 1 of The Irish Boxing Show

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie