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Heavyweight contender Joe Joyce has opted out of the opportunity to vie for the European title, choosing instead to focus on his forthcoming bout against Kash Ali on March 16th.

Joyce’s decision comes in the wake of a challenging period in 2023, marked by two knockout losses to Zhilei Zhang. These defeats saw Joyce surrender his WBO interim heavyweight title, along with his mandatory challenger status for a shot at world honors, and his previously unblemished record.

Scheduled to face Granit Shala (15-0) for the EBU title, Joyce withdrew from the bout just one day before it was due to proceed to purse bids. This development follows Daniel Dubois also withdrawing from a potential title clash, leaving Shala without an opponent and his promoter, Ingo Volckmann, expressing frustration.

Volckmann expressed his disappointment, stating, “It’s really annoying that this fight doesn’t happen either. I would also have loved to bring him to Germany and have him as the second main fight on April 6th in Falkensee before Jack [Culcay’s] world championship fight.”

Despite the setback, Volckmann and his team are exploring alternative options for Shala’s next bout, including discussions with undefeated Ukrainian Oleksandr Zakhozhyi (18-0), who is next in line for a shot at the European title. The deadline for offers is set for March 13th, after which the bout could proceed to purse bids.

Instead of featuring on the undercard of the upcoming Culcay vs. Murtazaliev card, where a new IBF super-welterweight champion will be crowned, Shala will now compete on April 13th in Charlottenbury. Whether this fight will be for the European title or against Zakhozhyi remains uncertain, pending further developments.


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