Interview: Team GB boxer Joe Joyce targets gold at Olympic Games

Sports Mole talks Olympics, future plans and nutrition with Team GB super-heavyweight boxer Joe Joyce, who is one of the favourites for gold in Brazil.

Standing at 6'6" and weighing over 17 stone, Team GB boxer Joe Joyce is a mountain of a man. He is also one of the favourites to secure gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but that is far from the end of his tale.

The 30-year-old, who has a 2:1 university degree in fine arts, is a careful, considered speaker and did not actually take boxing seriously until the age of 22 when he wandered into his university gym.

Eight years and many, many rounds later, Joyce has secured his position at the Games in Brazil. It did not happen through the World Series of Boxing or the World Championships in 2015, but victory over Hungary's Istvan Bernath at the European qualifying event in Samsun, Turkey on April 15 ensured that the super-heavyweight would make the showpiece event.

Joyce's spot at the Games was already certain ahead of his gold-medal bout with Magomedrasul Majidov, but the London-born fighter overcame the 29-year-old Azerbaijani in their first meeting at this level.

Team GB boxer Joe Joyce celebrates following his win over Moldova's Alexei Zavatin at the European Games in Baku on June 20, 2015© Getty Images

Majidov, who was the last man to beat now IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, won bronze at the 2012 Olympics and like Joyce, is one of the powerhouses in the super-heavyweight game.

"I am really pleased. Onwards and upwards now to Rio," Joyce told Sports Mole. "I always wanted to fight Majidov. I thought I would before, but I finally got my chance and it was a good fight. I enjoyed that bout, it was very competitive. There was only one judge that made the difference.

"I thought I would have fought him in the European Championships in 2013, but I got chinned by the Russian! And then in Baku (European Games 2015) he had to pull out with a ruptured cheekbone or eye socket. I was watching that right hand, he caught me a few times. I thought my defence was really good in that fight. He just caught me with the odd one down the middle."

After securing qualification, Joyce was met with a host of support on social media, with congratulations coming from former Olympic champion Joshua and WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who predicted a big 2017 for soon-to-be professional Joyce.

"Yeah I saw that. I was pleased. Joshua tweeted it as well. I will be going professional, I won't be doing another cycle – I will be turning 31 so I need to get on with it! I am just focusing on what I am doing now, to be honest. I can make plans later, one step at a time."

The Team GB boxing squad do not return to training until next Tuesday and although some of his teammates have decided to jet off for a break, Joyce has remained put and has revealed that he has been able to have some downtime in between events.

"I've been busy! I have been trying to have some time off, but things keep cropping up. We are back in training next Tuesday. I have been chilling when I can, but I have been busy since last week.

"I went and saw the Muhammad Ali exhibition and I've had birthdays, I went to the cinema to see Jungle Book with my little brother and my mum. It was good! I was pretty tired though, I fell asleep!

"I wanted to see the snake scene, but I missed it. I like a nap when I am training hard, but I don't really nap when I am not training!"

Team GB's Joe Joyce on May 29, 2015© Getty Images

The 30-year-old has also revealed that he is looking forward to travelling to Brazil - a country that he has yet to visit. Joyce has also had the chance to try out part of the Team GB attire, although the boxing squad will not undergo their kitting-out ceremony until next month.

"I have never been to Brazil. I am excited, but obviously it is still 99 days away. Some of the support staff have already been out there to the test event, but apparently in the village, every block of flats has its own infinity pool at the back so it should be alright! I have already been to try out the suit and closing ceremony stuff and it is nice, slick!"

Eight of Joyce's teammates secured their Olympic berth at the semi-final stage of the qualification event earlier this month, but middleweight Anthony Fowler had to fight in the box-off one day later to secure his own position at the competition.

"Oh that was stressful, watching that bout! I felt tired after it! And then he got a cut and I was like 'oh no, not again'! I thought it was going to get stopped, not again! It was a tough old bout. He works really hard and deserves it."

Great Britain's Joe Joyce in action against Alexei Zavatin of Moldova at the European Games in Baku on June 20, 2015© Getty Images

Joyce was also keen to pay tribute to the work of performance director Rob McCracken and all of the coaches that form part of the boxing setup with Team GB.

"They are the ones that put the hours in with us in the gym, getting our training right and getting our head around it. The support in the ring, tactics and video analysis etc. It helps!"

But what does a super-heavyweight boxer need to eat? Six, seven meals a day? Not according to Joyce, who has revealed that he "normally" has just three meals and reduces his carbohydrate intake in the evening to keep himself in top shape for competitions.

"I normally just have three meals and a couple of snacks in between. I have to make sure I get enough protein as I can and I try and reduce my carbs in the evenings. I don't eat too late."

Joyce already has a Commonwealth Games gold medal and European Games gold medal to his name and is now rightly recognised on the world stage, but the 30-year-old will go in search of the biggest prize in amateur boxing later this year.

Team GB boxer Joe Joyce celebrates following his win over Moldova's Alexei Zavatin at the European Games in Baku on June 20, 2015
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