Danny Flexen looks at the professional progression of Daniel Dubois and examines how far he can go
He celebrated his 22nd birthday earlier this month but giant prodigy Daniel Dubois, who was a star junior amateur but only had seven senior fights, has already collected Southern Area, English, British, Commonwealth, WBO European and WBC Youth heavyweight titles in just under two-and-a-half years as a pro. It makes the ‘Every Belt’ tag assigned to his next bout, a defence of the Commonwealth strap against Ghana’s Ebenezer Tetteh next week, wholly appropriate, although the current proliferation of championships makes it an amorphous objective.
What the Greenwich man has already achieved is quite startling. The 2019 Boxing Writers Young Boxer of the Year has not fought a single opponent with a losing record, yet only cunning American journeyman Kevin Johnson has managed to take him the distance in 12 fights (all wins). Decent heavyweights like Tom Little and Razvan Cojanu have been summarily brushed aside by a 6ft 5in athlete with an excellent jab and pulverising right hand. As his recent sparring partners, and mentor Frank Bruno, all told me, what “Dynamite” lacks in flair he more than compensates for with excellent fundamentals and numbing power.
His July victory over domestic nemesis Nathan Gorman was a lesson in using intelligent pressure, timing and accuracy to overcome superior handspeed and mobility. It showed that Dubois is far more than just a young, strong guy. It also demonstrated, like the exciting firefight with Richard Lartey that preceded it, that Daniel can also take a shot, at least at a certain level.
The initial instinct, given his recent dominant displays, may be to rush Dubois to genuine world level, but he has so much time on his side. The top heavyweights currently range from their mid-20s to early-30s and while Dubois has the expected ambition and confidence of youth, it is left to those around him to delay the surge. Timing, both inside and outside the ring, really is everything.
Should Dubois get past Tetteh – and I’d be shocked if he didn’t, so raw and ungainly does the African appear he should make for a highlight-reel KO – I think the inevitable showdown with Joe Joyce can wait until at least next summer. Joyce is right up there on the verge of a world title shot and unlike Dubois, given his 33 years, does need to get a move on. He needs his countryman like a hole in the head. That’s not to say Joyce wouldn’t win – he has a solid chin, a great workrate and hits stiffly himself – but it’s a fight within which he would have everything to lose and little to gain, at least under the current circumstances.
Also, why add unnecessary miles to Dubois’ clock. He can be moved gradually, the European title is currently vacant so that may be an attractive option. Lennox Lewis did not get a world title until after his 21st fight, aged 27, Anthony Joshua in his 16th contest (aged 26), and they are both Olympic gold medallists. Dubois can still appear a bit programmed at times and lacks certain polish and composure, weaknesses we can see being addressed. If he is progressed prematurely he could suffer confidence-shattering setbacks.
If his team guide him carefully and patiently however he could well be the heir to Joshua and Tyson Fury as Britain’s next unified heavyweight ruler. To succeed AJ as a draw, however, the typically reserved Dubois will need to develop a personality and media skills commensurate to his ability.