Joe Joyce says boxing should try to avoid a repeat of the Olympic cheating scandal by adopting a version of football’s VAR.
Joyce, who is expected to have his silver medal upgraded to gold following revelations around Rio 2016, proposed that the sport allows any questionable verdicts to be re-assessed before medals are awarded.
The British boxer told the Mail on Sunday he always felt the split decision in his super-heavyweight bout was the result of wrongdoing but ‘had to accept it graciously’.
Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce has suggested boxing adopts a version of VAR to help keep fights fair
Joyce (left) was suspicious of his 2016 Rio Olympic final defeat to Frenchman Tony Yoka
The 36-year-old also admitted to having mixed feelings about the prospect of finally being recognised as a gold-medal winner because so much time had passed since the bout.
‘It’s a lot of water on the bridge but it’s nice to finally be Olympic champion,’ the Londoner said. ‘It’s great news, but I don’t know if that means anything right now.
‘It was a bit of a sour note [the defeat]. I’d have been a lot more pleased with the Olympics in general if I’d been awarded the gold medal, especially since my last fight was the last fight of the Olympics.’
The gold medal was awarded to the Frenchman Tony Yoka on a split decision even though many of those who watched the final felt that Joyce had outboxed his opponent.
Asked if he was suspicious about the scorecards at the time, Joyce said: ‘Yeah. Boxing is corrupt. You see robberies all the time. It was quite a big decision for my career to be on the wrong side of. But I had to accept it graciously.’
Joyce (left) out-boxed his opponent in Brazil but ended his amateur career with a silver medal
Professor Richard McLaren’s investigation into the corruption said that approximately 11 bouts were ‘suspicious’ in Rio and that ‘there may have been others’ that were victim of the system put in place to manipulate the outcome of bouts.
The other dubious fights included a defeat for Ireland’s Michael Conlon, the former world amateur champion who last week said he felt ‘vindicated’ after responding furiously at the time to losing in the bantamweight quarter-finals.
Aiba, boxing’s governing body, ditched a computer scoring system based purely on punches landed after the 2012 Olympics because it was felt that the London bouts lacked entertainment.
Judges were re-introduced for the Rio Games to enable ‘the style of the boxer and their fighting spirit’ to be taken into account, as the former Aiba president Ching-Kuo Wu put it.
However, that has coincided with one of the worst scandals in Olympic history, and McLaren’s report said that cheats also attempted to fix fights before and during London 2012.
AIBA former president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu poses with officials after the final fight of the Games
It added that the qualifiers for Rio were used as a ‘practice ground’ on which the fight-fixing system was ‘fine-tuned’ by weeding out officials and judges not prepared to take part in it.
McLaren said the ultimate responsibility for the scandal lay with Wu, of China, who was banned from the sport in 2018 for gross negligence and financial mismanagement.
Aiba, meanwhile, which is battling to regain its Olympic status, said over the summer that it was planning to introduce a new scoring system. Joyce proposed a recount mechanism for any decision that is considered unfair.
‘It’s a hard one. It’s not like the 100metres where you can clearly tell a winner,’ he said.
‘They’ve tried computer scoring so they calculate how many punches have been thrown and landed. But maybe they have something like in football. If there is something they see on the cameras [that points to a judging error] and watch it back.
‘They should have a recount if there is any disagreement. That would take longer to get a decision. But if they’ve done it before the medal ceremony, they could have an official winner.’
The British heavyweight has gone on to construct a destructive professional career since
Joyce disagreed with suggestions that Olympic officials should now consider banning boxing from the 2024 Games. ‘It definitely should be in Paris. Boxing is a historical sport. It needs to be there.’
Joyce is unbeaten in 12 professional fights at heavyweight but said his career to date would have been more profitable had he been awarded Olympic gold.
His management released a statement on Joyce’s behalf on Friday saying he was considering legal action following the publication of McLaren’s report, which said bribes were offered to fix fights in Rio.
‘It’s about legacy, but I’ve lost money from it too,’ Joyce said. ‘Olympic gold medallist has a lot more sway. [You get] better signing-on fees.’
He added, laughing: ‘Obviously there are perks too. I might have an actual real MBE. BA [British Airways] might sort me out some cheap flights or something. I wanted a gold post box in my area… Need to sign a petition! I want the gold post box in Putney!’