By Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
There are few things which excite British boxing fans as much as a young British heavyweight prospect does, even more so since the perpetual rise of Anthony Joshua who has really transcended the sport in terms of marketability. Joshua’s blinding popularity does mean that any prospects will regrettably be regarded with additional scrutiny and media attention. Daniel Dubois has only just turned 20 years of age and already ‘DDD’ is being positioned as someone to not only be a front bearer of Frank Warren’s stable but of British Heavyweight boxing as a whole. There is no star like a Heavyweight star and Warren would be foolish not to build something around Dubois.
That said, things need to be done at the right pace. Just recently I heard a journalist say Dubois is the hardest hitting British Heavyweight EVER! He might well prove to be but this sort of talk is vacuously premature and is only going to build a pressure the young man doesn’t really need. More to the point, the hype being generated will make fans more impatient with him when in reality fighting Dorian Darch in your sixth fight at 20 years old is perfectly alright. You can see when watching Dubois that he still has a rawness that need to be nurtured correctly. He certainly has ability to work with, given his success as an amateur (he won gold medals for England at multi-nations and also won the British Seniors). Further to that, you can’t actually fight for a British title until you’re 21 which should generate some patience amongst the boxing fraternity. We are forever an impatient bunch though and unproven hype only flames those fires further.
What we can see is that Dubois is levels above what he’s been faced with so far. Darch will be his best opponent thus far but respectfully I can’t see it going past a couple of rounds. The fight against AJ Carter looked flat out dangerous. Personally I like the idea of working your way from an Area title to the very top but some gaps are necessary. I think the winner of Gorman-Soltby would be ideal, or even a fight with Nick Webb would be cool too. Those fights give us a better chance to judge where Dubois is at exactly. It’s difficult to really analyse him as his fights have pretty much all been identical in their relative quickness. Certainly his power DOES look very good, effectively ending David Howe with the first meaningful shot. And at 20 he still has a lot of growing to do physically which suggests his power should well improve further. And what us fans need to remember is that losing whilst you’re learning isn’t such a terrible thing. The Brits tend to be OK with that, I mean Frank Bruno remained popular despite taking losses. In fact, we tend to ‘love a loser’ over here so long as we can say they put up a ‘brave’ effort retrospectively.
I think we will get decent fights for Dubois sooner rather than later. One thing I like about Warren is that he isn’t too bothered about putting in two young guys with 0’s in their record. I was pleasantly surprised when Saunders-Eubank Jr was made, for instance. We need more fights like that, none of this ‘let it build’ nonsense. Josh Tayloy-Ohara Davies is another recent example of this. Despite taking a loss, Davies is still seen as relevant and rightly so. Yet still all over boxing I see so many fights that could be made with domestic prospects that just get put off whilst they both take on fights way below them. These are often guys with solid amateur experience too. I think it boils down to the same thing that it so often does – fans want competitive fights. At least ones that appear so on paper anyway.
Back to Dubois. The problem he will likely face is going to be the Joshua comparisons. These comparisons are grossly unfair but irrevocably coming. Dubois isn’t an Olympic gold medallist and is a baby in Heavyweight terms. Joshua’s resume was actually built at a decent pace but the involvement of PPV and titles kind of polluted that a little. We have a responsibility ourselves to ignore hyperbole when we see it and make judgements on a fighter’s career as we see fit. Unfortunately as promoters battle each other there will be a lot of gold promised from empty mines but we have our own eyes and minds in which to decide with.by