Why Should I Care: Joyce-Haskins Preview

Inside Ulster Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland on February 1st, two of the United Kingdom’s own fill face off for the vacant WBO European Featherweight Title. England’s Lee Haskins will look to secure his place in boxing when he faces hometown star David Oliver Joyce.

Outside of the United Kingdom, this fight may not draw that much attention, but this fight has the potential to be one to watch.

Haskins (36-4), a former IBF Bantamweight Champion, is looking to have another chance at glory, even if it is for the last time. The 37-year-old is currently on a two-fight win streak, beating both Sergio Gonzalez and Isaac Quaye via points decision. It made up for a decision loss against Ryan Burnett in 2017 that snapped an eight-fight win streak.

The southpaw stayed away from the sport following that loss. Hoping father time doesn’t knock him down, a recharged Haskins is hoping for two big wins come this weekend.

“After the two years out I think I needed a good break to get the hunger back,” Haskins stated, via World Boxing News. “I hear David Oliver Joyce likes to come on strong and he walks on to a lot of shots, so I believe that could work in my favour… I believe my skill over the years and my knowledge really could help me in this fight, but take all that away I still believe it’s going to be a hard fight so that’s why I’ve pushed myself.”

This will be a big test for Joyce (11-1), who is coming off of a TKO-loss against Leigh Wood in York Hall back in October. The first loss of his young career, the 32-year-old also gave up the WBO European Featherweight Title. A multi-time European Union Championships gold medalist, Joyce has eight wins via knockout.

Joyce turned pro in 2017 and is already shooting up the ranks in the boxing world. He returns to junior featherweight for this bout following the Wood loss at featherweight. The young gun was born into a boxing family, as his cousins are international stars. One of them, Joe Ward, is a multi-time Amateur Championship medalist.

“I believe my skill over the years and my knowledge really could help me in this fight, but take all that away and I still believe it’s going to be a hard fight, so that’s why I’ve pushed myself,” Joyce stated to ESPN.

Joyce’s confidence in himself knows no bounds. Following his win over Stephen Tiffney back in April, Joyce called out all talent from the local area, showing off his amateur pedigree to prove a point.

“A lot of people see where my pedigree is, and I know I can mix it with the best,” Joyce stated, via Independent.ie. “To all of the featherweights out there in England and Ireland, I’m in town now. I boxed Oscar Valdez as an amateur in 2009, and I’ve mixed it with Carl Frampton too. They all know I can compete with the top level boxers at featherweight.”

In a sense, this is a perfect bout for Joyce. A win against Haskins can cement himself as one of the top European fighters out there in just a short period of time. A win by Haskins can increase his time in the ring while teaching the neophyte a thing or two.

Joyce v. Haskins is on the undercard of a Sean McComb v. Mauro Maximiliano Godoy headliner. The action begins at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

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