Joe Joyce has begun VR boxing during the coronavirus pandemic ahead of his heavyweight clash with Daniel DuboisCredit: Instagram @joejoyceboxing
JOE JOYCE turned to virtual reality to keep his world title dream alive in lockdown.
The 34-year-old Juggernaut was scheduled to fight British and Commonwealth champion Daniel Dubois on April 11, with the winner moving up to world title contention.
Joe Joyce was due to get into the ring with Dubois at The O2 in April but Covid-19 has pushed the fight back to JulyCredit: Getty Images - Getty
But the pandemic caused it to be postponed and scuppered the £60,000 Las Vegas training camp Joyce was forced to jet home early from last month.
While most boxers are limited to running around the block, pumping iron in the garage and whacking punchbags in the garden, Londoner Joyce is one step ahead.
The 2016 Olympic super- heavyweight silver medallist has downloaded VR boxing games onto his Oculus Quest headset to compete in computerised battles.
Taking a break from trampolining in his mum’s Putney garden, Joyce told SunSport: “I have been doing a lot of cycling and running around Richmond Park, using kettlebells and doing lots of shadow boxing. But I have also been doing some virtual reality boxing.
“There are two boxing games, one called Creed and another one called Thrill of the Fight, which I prefer because it is more realistic.
“In Thrill of the Fight your opponent can do more things against you like guard or counter and you can select the different levels you fight at.
“You can start as a basic sparring partner and then you go up in levels, into actual fights and you dictate how many rounds you do and it gives you a minute rest in between. When I first downloaded it I didn’t completely understand it and I ended up doing nine straight minutes, I was shattered.”
Joyce will need to be at his absolute best to beat Dubois, 22, who is the UK’s new boxing golden boy after just 14 fights.
The pair still hope to meet this year, once lockdown ends.
And this state-of-the-art tech might be a secret weapon against the Peacock Gym prospect, who is in lockdown with his family in their Hertfordshire home.
Joyce has even recognised a familiar old face in the game, reminding him of an impressive 2013 amateur win that should stand him in good stead.
He added: “I’ve done quite a few rounds on it now.
“You don’t box as a character or a famous fighter, you just see your gloves and the opponent in front of you, so it’s a completely first-person.
“It’s not specific for professional fighters. I started with a basic sparring partner then you go up the levels.
“You can decide to jump straight in to fight the best guy if you want, they have one on there who looks a bit like Filip Hrgovic but the avatar doesn’t hit as hard as he does.”
In mid-interview, Joyce takes an urgent delivery and reveals another reason he has swapped his Surrey bachelor pad for the comforts of a more urban family home.
He reckons he has the perfect recipe to derail Dubois — and the secret ingredient is the odd indulgence.
Putney giant Joe Joyce cartwheels in celebration after stopping Alexander Ustinov in May 2019Credit: Reuters
Joyce and Dubois are set to face off in a colossal all-British clash on July 11Credit: Richard Pelham - The Sun
Joyce said: “Sorry, that was a Deliveroo driver, I’m having a treat day so I got a burger delivered.
“I have noticed a big difference in food delivery options back at my mum’s, compared to down in Surrey where there only seems to be one Indian restaurant and one pizza chain.
“Back in London there are a lot more options, so it’s another reason why it’s nice to be home.”