What it’s like to watch Daniel Dubois spar – Britain’s next heavyweight world champion after Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury?

3 weeks ago
431 Views

It’s first thing on a Monday morning and I’m stood on a packed Jubilee Line train headed for east London.

The carriage is naturally rammed with preoccupied businessmen-and-women, most of whom look understandably pessimistic as they prepare to begin another week of 9-5 hard work.

London’s Underground is relentless during rush hour

Getty Images – Getty

London’s Underground is relentless during rush hour

As the train reaches Canary Wharf Station, the carriage all-but empties.

I’m one of four people remaining and take a seat, relieved from no longer being compressed between the masses.

I stay on because I’m not destined for the 9-5 on this particular morning. Instead, I depart two stops later at a significantly less busy Canning Town and make the ten-minute walk up to the Peacock Gym where I’m due to meet Daniel Dubois.

My duty is to interview him after training for a talkSPORT.com column, but jumped at the opportunity to head down earlier and get a glimpse into his preparations for the upcoming bout against Joe Joyce.

Daniel Dubois is 14-0 (13 KOs)

Getty – Contributor

Daniel Dubois is 14-0 (13 KOs)

These chances still feel special. To witness a man who many expect to become the future heavyweight world champion up close and personal during his development phase is rare.

Imagine having been in the gym with an emerging Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or Rocky Marciano.

These are the greats whose footsteps 22-year-old Dubois is hoping to follow in the coming years.

I arrive and am greeted by the ever-friendly ladies who run the café at the front of the Peacock. They inform me Daniel is already here and direct me through to where I will find him.

The Peacock Gym has developed many champion in recent years

Getty Images – Getty

The Peacock Gym has developed many champion in recent years

Having already interviewed him at talkSPORT a few times before, he recognises me… sort of.

“Are you the guy from BT?” he asks. Close enough.

After clarifying who I work for, I ask if he’s been informed that someone’s coming to interview him today.

“No, nobody told me,” he replies.

Ah.

Dubois is understandably a more relaxed character away from the cameras

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Dubois is understandably a more relaxed character away from the cameras

The perception of Dubois is that he’s a relatively quiet character. He’s noticeably shy in camera interviews and usually appears to save all elation until after a victory.

Before that point he is seen to be 100 per cent serious, solely focused on the job in front of him.

Of course, though, perception and reality seldom ever go entirely hand in hand.

Away from the interview environment, Dubois is naturally far more relaxed and talkative with others in the gym. His trainer Martin Bowers is quick to point out he’s a friendly, well-mannered character – something that proves true.

Dubois is targeting world titles in the coming years

Getty

Dubois is targeting world titles in the coming years

In the ring, however, this all changes.

By mid-morning the Peacock Gym has become packed, not dissimilar to a Jubilee Line carriage during rush hour. Sparring is taking place in the two main boxing rings with around 30/40 aspiring fighters honing their crafts in the areas around them.

However, through a barely noticeable side door the hustle and bustle dies away and a second room comes into view with just six people around.

Here is where Dubois begins sparring.

Dubois knocked out all five of his opponents in 2019

Getty Images – Getty

Dubois knocked out all five of his opponents in 2019

It’s intriguing to observe how a brutal power puncher approaches this kind of training session as we’re used to seeing them produce consistent knockouts, but that is obviously not the purpose here.

In a fight you have an ‘opponent’, whereas in sparring you have a ‘partner’. It’s supposed to be about learning, not hurting.

Dubois is 14-0 (13 KOs) with all of his early finishes coming within the first five rounds, though we see a slightly different side to him as he spars.

He works with two different fighters who alternate every couple of rounds with contrasting styles to educate the 22-year-old.

As an amateur, Dubois sparred Anthony Joshua with Team GB

Instagram – Frazer Clarke

As an amateur, Dubois sparred Anthony Joshua with Team GB

The first, in neon green gloves, seems a closer replica of Joe Joyce in the sense that he’s a sizeable heavyweight, a strong brute of a man, although not blessed with the greatest hand speed.

It must be admitted that the second, in golden gloves, is drastically different. Naturally smaller, quicker, slicker – seemingly with very little in common to Joyce at all.

However, as we’re six weeks out from fight night, this is no cause for concern. Bowers insists there will be more specialised sparring arriving from America in the days to come.

Martin Bowers coaches Dubois at the Peacock

Daniel Dubois – Instagram

Martin Bowers coaches Dubois at the Peacock

As the session begins, the instinctive respect between training partners is evident.

Dubois touches gloves with the figure in the opposite corner at the start of every round, before then instantly jumping on the front foot to apply pressure.

I double take for a moment as it looks as though the shaven-headed fighter has suddenly grown dreadlocks. Alas, it was merely the string toggles at the back of his headguard bouncing up and down as he shifted on his feet, moving to find an angle from which to successfully land his right hand.

At no point is either man able to push Dubois backwards. His 6ft 5ins, 17-stone strength understandably troubles them both, with the neon-gloved heavyweight often forced back against the ropes.

Dubois has previously sparred fellow top prospect Filip Hrgovic

Instagram – Daniel Dubois

Dubois has previously sparred fellow top prospect Filip Hrgovic

The lighter, golden-gloved partner uses his speed of both hand and foot to escape such positions on occasion, but still clearly feels the presence of Dubois.

Part of what has Dubois touted as one of boxing’s most exciting and entertaining young prospects is that he’s not too shy about getting hit himself.

In most of his fights to date he’s knocked his opponents out before they can get to him, yet in sparring this is not the case.

All three men are developing their timing and accuracy as they practice, using each other as targets.

As a result, Dubois takes some shots himself before firing back in vicious fashion.

Heading into the final round, trainer Bowers gees both participants up.

The headguard toggle is bouncing up and down less and less now – a standard effect in the final minutes after several rounds of good, hard work.

The timer chirrups one last time and a smattering of applause emerges from the few people in the room as both fighters embrace.

Dubois then heads straight to the bag for a few more rounds of graft, relentless in pursuit of his end goal.

Dubois and Joyce risk their undefeated records next month

Getty Images – Getty

Dubois and Joyce risk their undefeated records next month

In our interview that follows, his own words explain it best: “Joyce is a worthy contender, but I’m more than confident I’ll win. I’ve got to win, I refuse to lose. I just go in with that mentality.

“I think a lot of it’s internal. What you’ve got inside of you, if you’re that way inclined and that type of person and fighter.

“If it comes to a firefight, I’ll be more than up to scratch and ready to take him out.”

It’s still early days in the journey of Daniel Dubois, but given what we’ve witnessed from his career so far, it would be no surprise if he lives up to every word.

Daniel Dubois fights Joe Joyce for the European heavyweight title in London on April 11. Tickets available here.


Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Boxing – talkSPORT

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »