Joe Joyce has backed Frazer Clarke to continue Great Britain’s proud Olympic record in the super-heavyweight division since the turn of the century, saying: “His time is now.”
Every British entrant since 2000 in the highest weight category has at least finished in the podium places at a Games, with Audley Harrison starting that run as he collected a gold medal at Sydney 21 years ago.
Anthony Joshua emulated Harrison at London 2012, either side of David Price taking bronze at Beijing 2008 and Joyce having to settle for silver after losing a controversial split decision to France’s Tony Yoka at Rio 2016.
Clarke, who has missed out on qualification for the last two Olympics but did travel to Brazil as a sparring partner, has some big shoes to fill in Tokyo although he has been tipped to succeed by his predecessor Joyce.
“I believe he’s got the abilities, he’s hungry and he’s waited long enough,” said Joyce, who takes on Carlos Takam on Saturday and is poised to face the winner of Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk after becoming the WBO mandatory challenger.
“I think his time is now and he’ll be looking to deliver and perform.”
Flyweight Galal Yafai and welterweight Pat McCormack were team-mates of Joyce five years ago but elected to remain in the amateur set-up and are part of an 11-strong GB group of seven men and four women set to box in Japan.
“It’s a strong team,” added Joyce. “There are some guys that have been there before and some coming through. They’re all good and I’ll be looking forward to seeing them and see what draw they get.”
Joyce, who has won all 12 contests since turning professional in October 2017, insisted there is no lingering bitterness at losing in the Rio final, despite many feeling he had done enough to have his hand raised.
“It’s a lot of water under the bridge, 2016 seems a like a lifetime ago,” added the 35-year-old. “I’ve progressed in my career quite nicely and I’m about to have some major fights.”
:: JOYCE vs TAKAM – THIS SATURDAY, 7:15pm, BT SPORT 1 HD