Interview by Paul Zanon for BVB
“His immediate aim is to win the fight on 11 April, but Dan’s focus is second to none, he’s just got one mission. To become heavyweight champion of the world. That’s it. There ain’t no grey areas.” Dubois’ trainer Martin Bowers on his charge’s immovable mind-set in advance of his clash against Joe Joyce on 11 April at the 02, London.
As Dubois prepares to fight Joyce, his opponent’s manager Sam Jones has certainly done his very best to rile the Greenwich favourite at every media opportunity. Sadly for Jones, his tactics have been unsuccessful. Dubois explained. “He hasn’t got under my skin at all. He has to earn a buck somehow, he’s on the payroll like everyone else and he’s got to do his job. If talking and bringing a bit of hype to the press conference is going to sell more tickets, my message to him is, ‘Go for it.’
“As far as Joe Joyce is concerned, he’s not getting to me either. I’m fully prepared to go to war with him on fight night and have no personal or emotional feelings towards him.”
Locking horns at the O2 will be the first time they clash as heavyweights. However, they have crossed paths as amateurs. “I was only 17 at the time and was just getting on the GB squad and Joyce was getting ready for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Just imagine, a 17-year-old kid who’s just left his amateur setup at junior level and he’s now in with the big boys. I handled myself and I felt I gave everyone up there a good spar. However, that was in the past and I’m a different guy now.”
Dubois certainly is different. Growing into his 6ft 5inch frame and weighing just over 17 stones, as his ‘Dynamite’ moniker suggests, he’s left a trail of destruction behind him ever since his debut in April 2017. With 13 knockouts in 14 fights, does the east Londoner intentionally go looking for the early victory? “You never look for a stoppage. You let it come. You box, and if the stoppage comes, it comes. You need to create the situation and the openings. It’s about how you box skilfully, which creates the opportunity for the power to connect.”
Bowers added further colour to Dubois’ journey to date. “Dan hits very hard. His jab is like a straight right hand and there’s no doubt about it – his punches hurt. However, Dan’s maturing into a nice young man outside of the ring as well. The way he’s beginning to put his combinations together and working off his jab a little bit more, shows that he’s not one dimensional.
“By the time he’s had this fight in April, that’s 15 fights, or five fights a year, which is good by anybody’s standards. Dan’s fights have been progressive through his career, have taken him somewhere and he’s done everything that’s been asked of him. It’s not like he’s been having small hall shows where he’s had a fight just to pad his record out.”
It’s worth noting that Dubois made his debut on 8 April 2017 at the Manchester Arena on the undercard of two world title fights (Liam Williams versus Liam Smith and Terry Flannagan versus Petr Petrov), then shortly after picked up the WBC Youth world heavyweight title with a destructive two round knockout over Mauricio Barragan. Nine weeks later he added the Southern Area heavyweight crown to his collection. In his 14 fight winning streak, nine of his contests have been for a belt of some kind, including the Commonwealth and British straps.
In addition to having the training backbone of Bowers behind him, Dubois has also been fortunate to receive advice from Frank Bruno. The 22 year-old wrecking machine explained the benefits of having British boxing’s favourite son rooting for him. “He’s a former WBC world champion and having him support me is amazing. He brings positive energy and it’s always good to have that around you. Also, it’s great when he’s around with me and the media is around, because he brings clout with him, so that’s very beneficial for my profile.”
On a side note, as Dubois prepares for Joyce, younger sister and elite amateur, Caroline is getting ready to make her mark at the Olympics in Tokyo. Proud brother Daniel shared how his sister’s preparations were unfolding. “She’s doing very well. She’s up in Sheffield with Team GB working hard. The only way I can describe her focus is that she’s in her own world. Dieting, making sure her weight is perfect. I believe she’s ready to do the job and bring back the gold medal.”
Back to the here and now, BVB indulged their thoughts on the Wilder versus Fury rematch. Not one to sugar-coat, the heavy-handed heavyweight weighed in first. “One way you could put it is that Wilder got his ass kicked. That said and done, the show itself was fantastic. When world level heavyweights collide, it’s an amazing spectacle. There was a lot of drama and ultimately the better man won. It was exciting while it lasted.”
Bowers added, “Fury’s tactics were bang on. Deontay was a little bit like when AJ boxed Ruiz. I didn’t understand what his game plan was. In terms of Wilder’s suit, he must have tried it on beforehand and thought, ‘What am I doing carrying this?’ However, he didn’t look right coming out from round one and that’s not taking anything away from Tyson, because he fought the perfect fight. At the moment, I’m loving everything Tyson is doing. Bearing in mind the starting blocks he came out of a few years ago and seeing how he is with the media now and what he’s delivering in the ring is amazing. He’s gone from the darkest point to being our leading light in British boxing.”
What about Fury versus Anthony Joshua? Dubois took a second to pause before answering. “I’d say Fury is definitely the favourite. How the fight would go? I don’t know. You can’t write anyone off at that level.” Bowers smiled and added. “Only one winner. Two actually. Fury and BT Sport!”
When Joyce and Dubois clash in April, the British, Commonwealth and European titles will be on the line. Dubois expressed his excitement of the spoils on offer to the victor. “I’m not even worried about the titles to be honest. I’m just focused about putting the hurt on him and bringing home the victory. The belts are there for the record and the CV, but once all said and done, I need to win the fight. I’m one hundred percent solely focused on that.”
“The last time I believe that two Brits fought for the European heavyweight title was when these two met [Bowers got up from his seat and pointed to a photo on the wall of Lennox Lewis and the late Gary Mason],” noted Bowers. “Even though we’ve done the whole Brexit thing, the European title means a lot. On a serious note though, the EBU is a great title and it’s something which will propel Dan up the [world] rankings.
“He knows he’s fighting a strong man who’s got a silver medal for our country in the Olympics, but Joe’s had more than one dream. To win Olympic gold and now to become world champion. Dan’s only ever had one dream. To be world champion.”
Should Dubois be victorious in April, a world title shot could be in the offing in the next 12-18 months. As manager and trainer of one of British boxing’s best prospects, Bowers offered sage words about dealing with the here and now. “You’ve got to look at who that champion is at the time. Weigh up whether we can beat him or whether we need more time. There’s no rush with Dan. He’s 22. Yes, it would be great to be a world champion by 23, but we’ll assess that situation as and when it arises.”
With just over a month to go before fight night, Joyce claims Dubois hasn’t fought anybody of substance. Dubois countered, “Well, I’ll be fighting him on the night and when that’s over, it’s irrelevant what he thinks and says. We’re going to meet, it’s on, that’s all he needs to think about."
Paul Zanon, has written eight books, with almost all of them reaching the No1 Bestselling spot in their respective categories on Amazon. He has co-hosted boxing shows on Talk Sport, been a pundit on London Live, Boxnation and is a regular contributor to Boxing Monthly magazine amongst other publications.