Daniel Dubois must wait a little longer to announce himself as a combustible heavyweight contender who is hunting Britain’s biggest names, writes Ed Draper.
For fast rising Londoner Dubois, lockdown is anything but lonely. He’s the oldest of four siblings in the household – all boxing mad – who live and train together.
“From day one they’ve been there for me. We’ve got a nice little extension with a gym where we can stay in shape. We’re inspiring each other to work hard. With what’s going on in the world, it’s ok,” the unbeaten 22 year-old told Sky Sports.
Dubois is the oldest of the quartet. Then comes Caroline, 19. And while Daniel describes the postponement of his fight with Joe Joyce as “coming out of the blue,” the emotion in his voice rose when considering his sister’s situation due to the coronavirus.
Caroline was on the cusp of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics as a serious medal contender in the lightweight division, but this summer’s Games have gone – and are now pencilled in for 2021.
“It’s a massive blow (for her), with all the training and the work she she’s put in, but she has options. She can wait (for the games to take place) or there’s turning pro. She’s calm.”
Caroline is training alongside Daniel, staying conditioned for whatever comes post lockdown. As is Prince, their 15 year-old brother.
“Prince, the middle brother, is already a boxer. He’s won a national title. He’s going to be very good.”
But the Dubois family sense seven-year-old Solomon may yet reign supreme – in the household’s hall of fame and beyond its walls.
“Solomon goes down to the Repton Club (pre-lockdown). He’s following in my footsteps. He could be the best of us. He’s loving it, training with us, doing some exercises.”
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Dad, Dave, is the tireless architect of his children’s boxing adventures. He’s is regular contact with Daniel’s trainer, Martin Bowers to help craft an adapted preparation for the British champion and has kitted out the home gym to allow them to keep fit without venturing out.
Daniel’s not doing road running currently, declining the government’s allowance on daily exercise to keep his immune system in maximum state.
“Not really (running). I can stay fit in the gym, we’ve got bags, there’s space for floor exercise. Staying healthy and alive, with what’s going on, is enough for me.”
Will the Dubois household ‘move around’ together in training, a lighter form of sparring, to keep the fighting reflexes tuned? Daniel, laughing, said that’d be a stretch too far, given the size and age differences.
“No, no. Not yet! To be honest it’s early [in his fight preparation]. I don’t need to spar. Just staying in shape. I’m okay, shape wise.”
The British and European title showdown with Joyce has been rescheduled for July 11, but with no signs of lockdown relaxing, will Dubois have enough time to fully prime his power in preparation?
His trainer wants him back in the gym at least two months out to incrementally introduce tougher sparring, but the fighter said he’d be happy with “a month or so” of fight prep in the Peacock Gym.
Dubois has excelled in his three years as pro, moving swiftly to a 14-0 record with 13 of the wins coming by way of knockout.
Japan’s Kyotaro Fujimoto became the latest foe to wilt under the explosive fists of Dubois last December, while Nathan Gorman, another Brit rival, had his unbeaten record ruined in the fifth round.
With even more time on his hands, Dubois has been analysing the vulnerabilities of Joyce as he plots his next destructive win.
“I’m watching video (of Joyce.) The way it’s worked out, I’ve got extra time to prepare. It’s about using it constructively. I look at what I’m up against, and then I develop my tactics and game plan.”
I just believe in myself and I’m confident for this fight
The fearsome record of Dubois is testament to his hurtful intent as a boxer, although he is respectful of Joyce and not interested in downplaying the qualities of the Olympic silver medallist.
Dubois is already ranked at No 3 by the WBO, but he’s not entertaining suggestions that the delay ramps up extra pressure on Joyce, who, at 34, has less time to reach the summit of the heavyweight division.
“You could say that, but that’s not what I’m saying. We’re both in the same situation. I’ve always been confident. I just believe in myself and I’m confident for this fight.”
Amid the uncertainty, Daniel has embraced a change in the pace of life. A ferocious puncher inside the ring, Dubois is enjoying the serenity outside it.
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“I’m relaxing, we’re taking it slow. Usually we’re running to the [Peacock] Gym, back and forth. Busy, busy. But we’ve calmed down to zero.”
So, how is Dubois relaxing? Well, he finds video games calming – not playing them, but observing his brother, Prince.
“I like sitting there and watching my brother. I don’t even know what the names of the games are. I’m a caveman!
“I like watching documentaries too, animal documentaries. I enjoy nature. Anything to get your imagination going.”
There’s plenty to get boxing fans’ imaginations firing right now, with the heavyweight scene simmering nicely underneath Britain’s ruling champions, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Dubois has allowed his mind to briefly wonder to what opportunities a win over Joyce might open up for him in 2021.
“There are lots of big fights waiting to be made. I want to be a part of that,” he said.
The British champion is comfortable with the idea of the Joyce fight being behind closed doors, if that is a requirement as social restrictions are gradually lifted, and he believes armchair viewers’ interest could spike.
“It doesn’t matter to me. A ring is a ring. It could be big for fans watching on TV.
“The hunger will be back to watch any kind of sport. Everyone will jump on it.”
The sport is currently at standstill, with promoters tentatively putting plans together for hectic schedule on its return, and Dubois has remained philosophical about his future.
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