LONDON -- Joe Joyce gained some traction in his move toward a world heavyweight title shot with a sixth-round win over former world titleholder Bermane Stiverne on Saturday at The O2 Arena in North Greenwich.
Joyce (8-0, 8 KOs), 33, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from London, is taking out every opponent he faces in the pro ranks, just as his former teammate on the Great Britain amateur boxing team Anthony Joshua has done in all but one of his paid fights.
Joshua is the WBA-IBF-WBO world heavyweight champion, and Joyce -- No 5 with the WBA -- is hurtling toward a shot at his former sparring partner.
"We're going to have him fight on the Deontay Wilder card in May or June, and then hopefully for the WBA 'regular' title [held by Manuel Charr] by the end of the year," Joyce's co-promoter Richard Schaefer, of Ringstar Sports, told ESPN.
"Maybe next year, we will do [Joshua]."
Haiti-born, Las Vegas-based Stiverne has seen better days, such as when he stopped Chris Arreola for the WBC belt in 2014 before losing it on points to Wilder in a first defense in 2015, but he still represented a significant step up in class for Joyce and proved a tough opponent to crack.
Stiverne (25-4-1, 21 KOs), 40, weighed in 8 pounds heavier than Joyce at 273 pounds for his first fight since being stopped in Round 1 in a rematch with Deontay Wilder in November 2017.
But Joyce found Stiverne harder to budge.
Both came out swinging in a lively first round, and Joyce had to take a few before he landed some of his own. Joyce out-punched Stiverne in the opener, but he was caught a few times by shots on the counter.
The volume of Joyce's blows began to take their toll on Stiverne in the second round, as he was continually caught and wobbled through the bout.
At the end of the second round, Stiverne could not even put his hands up to defend himself, but he stubbornly refused to go down.
Joyce, who is trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear Lake, California, broke Stiverne's resistance early in the third round when he dug a stiff right hand to the temple, sending Stiverne staggering into the ropes for a count.
But Stiverne recovered, and Joyce could not capitalize to force the stoppage that time around.
Joyce's pace then dropped, which Stiverne was grateful for, and it was not until the sixth round that the Londoner launched a sustained attack that prompted the referee Howard Foster to stop the fight.
Stiverne was trapped against the ropes and took two big rights before Foster stepped in. The former champion had no complaints about the stoppage.
Selby overcomes cut to score UD victory
Lee Selby battled for most of a 12-round lightweight bout with a horrendous cut before scoring a unanimous decision victory over Omar Douglas.
The Welshman earned scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 115-114 in his first fight since losing the IBF world featherweight title to Josh Warrington by decision in May.
It was a difficult start to life at lightweight for Selby (27-2, 9 KOs), who finished the fight dripping in blood after sustaining a nasty cut above his left eye in the second round.
The cut bothered Selby, 32, but he still had enough accuracy in his shots to inflict a third defeat in five fights for American Douglas (19-3, 13 KOs).
Selby, who jumped up two divisions after blaming defeat to Warrington on a struggle to make the featherweight weight limit, rocked Douglas onto his heels with a left in the second round.
But later in the second round, Selby suffered a cut above the left eye caused by a clash of heads.
Blood then spilled from the wound for the rest of the fight, and Selby's work suffered initially because of it. But Selby found some rhythm in the fifth round with some neatly placed shots, and he began avoiding Douglas' punches better.
Selby's corner could not stem the blood, and the Welshman's white shorts were pink by the halfway mark.
Selby, with his vision perhaps obscured by blood, was not as sharp or free-flowing with his punches as he can be, but Douglas could not sustain any pressure.
It was a slog rather than a waltz for Selby, who also suffered a smaller cut by the right eye in the eighth round.
Selby, who made five defenses as world champion, was still capable of landing good shots, including a short left to the temple in the ninth, but his punches never really shook Douglas.