JOE ‘JUGGERNAUT’ JOYCE clubbed his way to his ninth consecutive stoppage win to take another step closer to a record-breaking world title.
The 6ft 6in slugger, with a degree in fine arts, smeared blood all over Alexander Ustinov’s face before a left hook ended the veteran’s night.
The 33-year-old Putney giant started the fight by jabbing Ustinov’s body but there were no signs of his undoubted power until a meaty overhand right at the end of the opener.
Team GB’s 2016 Olympic silver medalist raced into the second round with far more intent, clubbing the Belarus-based Russian around the ring.
Ustinov, 42, did try to poleaxe his way into the contest but his efforts were telegraphed, after being looped over from distance. And Joyce ended the stanza with another punishing combination.
Joyce showed his mean side in the third, catching Ustinov with an accidental low blow and then shoving him to the floor.
And the left hook that slammed into his jaw seconds later, to end the fight, was equally mean.
Anthony Joshua won his first world title just two years and six months after turning professional and former sparring partner Joyce now has just under a year to smash that record.
Joyce was enjoying his first fight under new trainer Adam Booth, after leaving Abel Sanchez’s gym after his last win over Bermane Stiverne.
most read in boxing
There were ringside rumours that the West Londoner had been suffering with a chest infection in the build-up to the fight but there was little sign of struggle in the three one-sided rounds.
Win number nine tees up a European title shot next as Joyce is the mandatory challenger for Agit Kabayel’s strap and he could be out again as soon as July.
Joyce is also mandatory for the WBA regular belt that would be his best route to landing an all-England heavyweight title showdown with WBA super champ AJ.