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Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois and where do we go from here?

By: Oliver McManus

Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce promised to be a thrilling encounter between two heavyweights convinced they should be the promotional top-dog. The narrative had been built around 23-year-old Daniel Dubois for a coming of age moment. That line pushed Joe Joyce to the outside as he was a 3/1 underdog on fight night. One of Britain’s best amateur fighters a 3/1 outsider… it defied logic.

And so it proved to be. The 35-year-old from Putney out-fought his younger opponent and pestered him with a stubborn jab right up until Dubois’ eye imploded. Dubois took a knee and showed no interest in getting up. The fight had been sucked out of him by a performance that earned the respect Joyce already deserved.

Dubois emerges with a fractured orbital bone and nerve damage with no telling how long he’ll be out of the ring for. Joyce comes away with the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles and is all set to cash in at the top of the division. How bleak the juxtaposition of the sport can be.

WBO for Joyce?

All the talk in the immediate aftermath was of a fight between Joyce and, old foe, Oleksandr Usyk for a vacant WBO world title. Joyce will usurp Dubois as the #2 with the WBO in their next rankings but one small detail missing from that equation is that the WBO title isn’t currently vacant. Anthony Joshua, who holds the WBA, IBF and of course, the aforementioned WBO belt as well. Yet, the expectation is that should a mammoth fight with Tyson Fury come to fruition, he’ll have to vacate the title. It’s an ambitious plan and a good fight that would see former WSB rivals slugging it out for the jewel in the crown of their already distinguished careers; it becoming reality does rely on variables out of their control swinging in their favour.

Whyte whilst we wait?

A showdown with Dillian Whyte would certainly be a fight worth watching and could see the winner in good stead with both the WBO and the WBC (assuming Whyte prevails in his rematch with Alexander Povetkin). Queensbury Promotions have been very public about their desire to make matches with fighters from the Matchroom Boxing roster and if Joshua and Fury don’t fancy it anytime soon, this would be the next best thing. It’s probably not the sort of fight you’d put Joyce in, though, if you are waiting for that WBO situation to sort itself out.

Play the Yoka card…

Well, how about it? Tony Yoka is allegedly keen for the fight – emphasis on allegedly – but after his recent performance against Christian Hammer I can’t see why he’d fancy his chances. Joyce is widely believed to have done enough to earn the Gold medal in Rio in 2016 but was forced to settle for silver when the two met. This would be a chance to settle that score in the professional ranks. Yoka’s career has been blighted by a 12-month suspension for missed anti-doping tests and a fight against Joyce could help sway that narrative. It’s a fight that makes sense stylistically for Joyce and would be won to drum the interest and, perhaps, help really sell himself to the British public and boxing fans.

What next for Dubois?

That appears to depend on how long he’s required to sit out of the ring as he recovers from a fractured orbital bone and nerve damage around his left eye. He’s still 23 and there’s no need to rush a return when you consider all the time still on his side. I’d back him still to be a world champion in the next three, four years and I think his next 18 months of fighting needs to be those crucial learning fights – “middle ground fights”, if you will – and that should stand him in good stead.

It will be interesting to see at what level they put him back at – you could do worse than an eight-round shake about with someone like Kamil Sokolowski though that probably wouldn’t go down too well with the paying public.

Amateur foes revisited?

Peter Kadiru might well be a name you hear a fair bit of with the German amateur youth star now 10-0 as a professional. The 23-year-old is a former WBC Youth titlist – as was Dubois – and current German national champion but also holds a win over Dubois dating back to their amateur days. It would be a fight against two prospects highly regarded in their own country and with that little bit of tension that Dubois could sink his teeth into. Is it realistic? Probably not but I’d love it to happen.

The Book of Gorman

A rematch with Nathan Gorman has been touted in the days since Dubois’s loss but where’s the value in that fight? Dubois showed in their first fight that he could comfortably beat the Nantwich boxer and it would be a hard sell against someone who he’s already stopped in five rounds.

European gatekeepers

That brings us, then, to an aging breed of European gatekeepers that could bring Dubois valuable rounds and prompt variety within his performances. There do seem to be fewer of these archetypal gatekeepers around nowadays so the options aren’t as plentiful as they once might have been but a name from Joe Joyce’s CV springs out: Iago Kiladze. A 34 year old Georgian now based in America who has been in with Efe Ajagba, Michael Hunter, Joyce and Adam Kownacki in his last five fights. He’s tough but can be stopped and that could be a confidence-boosting win to get Dubois back into the swing of things.

Give him three or four of those fights – increasing in difficulty with each step – against the likes of Bogdan Dinu, Andriy Rudenko and Alexander Dimitrenko and then drop back in against guys with “name-value”.

Brief thoughts
Perhaps this result, rather oddly, is the best outcome it could have been. Were Joyce to lose you’d suggest he was on the older side to make a second run of things, whereas Dubois can regroup, regather and go again.

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