Our boxing expert previews the huge Daniel Dubois vs Joyce showdown, and comes up with a tasty prediction.
There’s a real throwback feel to Saturday’s big fight at Church House, Westminster as Daniel Dubois locks horns with Joe Joyce.
Indeed you probably have to go back to Lennox Lewis against Gary Mason in 1991 for the last time two unbeaten British heavyweights boxed in a ‘crossroads’ fight so early in their respective careers.
It’s a fascinating battle where one man’s weakness is the other man’s strength. For example, Joyce is pretty easy to hit by modern standards and Dubois carries spectacular power in either hand. A plus for Joyce is that we know he has a fine engine and can go all night, while his opponent has yet to go beyond 10 rounds and truly prove his stamina and chin.
9/4 Dubois to star in a British classic
The betting line has Joyce as a 3/1 outsider, but this does not tell the whole picture. It’s a fight many experts fancy could go either way, and without question Dubois v Joyce is one of the most anticipated contests of a boxing year ravaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic. It airs on BT Sport 1 HD.
Dubois has won 10 of his 15 professional fights in the first two rounds, with four of his victories coming in the opener. If you fancy him to do a job in the opening stanza he is a top price 16/1 with Sky Bet.
However, there is a school of thought that if Joyce is able to cope with the Greenwich man’s punch power in the first few rounds, he could drag him into deep waters in the second half of the fight. Whether Joyce himself sinks or swims though will depend on whether he can somehow avoid taking too many flush shots early on. He has the seasoning.
As an amateur Joyce won ABA titles, a European bronze, World bronze, Commonwealth gold, European gold and Olympic silver. You can’t buy that kind of apprenticeship. In contrast, Dubois had seven senior amateur fights.
Despite this chasm in terms of amateur experience plenty are saying Dubois early, and the evidence is compelling. Dubois is a fearsome puncher to head and body, and he is a ruthless finisher when he gets an opponent going. His jab is excellent and while Joyce will be wary of the right hand from over the top, it is Dubois’ body shots which could prove decisive.
Bryant Jennings hurt Joe to the body a few times when they boxed in July 2019 and Dubois will have been training with this in mind. Those shots to the mid-section could open Joyce up after a few rounds and it will be compelling viewing to see if he can withstand such a heavy two-fisted fusillade.
Dubois an awesome physical presence
Also, while question marks remain about his durability, there is no hard evidence that Dubois will gas. This is a man who was doing hour after hour of push-ups under the watchful eye of his father as a five-year-old. He lives and breathes the sport and should be fit enough to go the full 12, though a distance fight is the only outcome almost everyone in the trade is happy to rule out.
Joyce will have his backers at 3s but the fact that this fight is happening in 2020 offers some clue as to the outcome.
Frank Warren has been one of the top promoters in Britain – for what will have been 40 years on December 5 – and it is rare for him to make a mistake. Moreover, while he promotes both men the feeling is he is banking on Dubois here as the more marketable fighter.
Dubois should be able to get through to Joyce, but it may take a few rounds due to what is at stake as the pair size each other up. Yet look for Dubois to start to pile it on in the mid-rounds to force a KO/TKO or a mercy stoppage from the referee in a fight that should sizzle.
Betting: Dubois to win in rounds 5-8 at 9/4 (Sky Bet)