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Joe Joyce shuts down retirement rumours as return fight is confirmed

Joe Joyce admits it would be a crazy decision to retire now as he targets a return to winning ways in “thriving” heavyweight division against Kash Ali.

Frank Warren announced the first “Magnificent Seven” boxing card of 2024 on Thursday, including Joyce and Nathan Heaney, will take place in Birmingham on March 16.

Joyce will look to bounce back from two defeats to China’s Zhilei Zhang in 2023 and try to return to world title fight contention.

“It’s good to be back and get back into camp and to start the year with a bang,” Joyce said at a press conference at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.

“I’m still here. I’m not retiring and I have plenty of fights to be in. It’s an exciting time to be in. Why retire now? I’d be crazy to.

“I want to get back to winning ways again with a nice victory and then there are plenty of fights on the horizon. The heavyweight division is thriving at the moment especially with the opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

“Styles make fights and he’s a hard hitting durable southpaw (Zhang). I learnt from the first fight but I didn’t get the result (in the second). He got the beating of me and I’ll see what he’ll do next.”

Following his victory over Denzel Bentley in November, the undefeated Heaney will headline the event when he defends his British middleweight title against Brad Pauls.

The Stoke fighter said: “I’ve got the British title and the next title after that is the English title (which Pauls holds) so he is no easy pick at all.

“It was something I’ve always dreamt about (winning British title). That motivation is there for everyone. He’s better than people think, he has got a good jab and it sets up for a good fight.”

Birmingham’s Solomon Dacres features on the card, Eithan James fights Owen Cooper for the English welterweight title and Zach Parker faces Germany’s Tyron Zeuge.

Dennis McCann will also return to the ring after August’s technical draw with Ionut Baluta when he goes head-to-head with Liverpool’s Brad Strand while Erik Robles fights Liam Davies for the IBO world super bantamweight title.

The news comes soon after the announcement of Anthony Joshua’s next bout against MMA star Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on March 8.

Queensbury promoter Warren said: “We have so many quality fights, great for those buying tickets.

“We have top talent with youngsters coming through. It’s a competitive fight for everyone on the card. We have revived the format, we will do this a few times this year.”

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