Frank Warren has promoted Daniel Dubois ever since the Londoner was an unknown 18-year-old with nothing but a few sparring stories to his name. Six years on, Dubois and Warren travel to Poland for a shot at pound-for-pound great, Oleksandr Usyk, and the unified heavyweight title. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
During his 43-year career, Warren has put on massive shows involving the likes of Tyson Fury, Mike Tyson, Naseem Hamed and Ricky Hatton. But the idea of taking an underdog into the lions den still provokes an extra jolt of excitement. The fact that the biggest prize in the sport is on the table makes it even more exciting.
“It’s going to be the lion’s den”
“Absolutely it does. You want your guy to come through for obvious reasons and we’ve been on that journey with him from the beginning so it’s a special moment,” Warren told 32Red. “To be honest, we don’t know what we’re really going into. It’s going to be the lions den. It’s going to be full of Ukrainians and it’s Ukrainian independence week. They’re all gonna get behind their man but I believe in Daniel.”
When a young, heavy handed heavyweight bursts onto the scene, the red carpet is rolled out for them. Dubois’ star potential was so apparent that it would have been very easy to wrap him in cotton wool and stage manage his career right the way to an inevitable world title shot. That hasn’t been the case. Dubois beat the unbeaten Nathan Gorman in his twelfth fight, suffered his only defeat to the monstrous Joe Joyce in his 16th and travelled to America to beat the undefeated Trevor Bryan to earn this opportunity. This will be the first time he enters the ring as an underdog but he has faced more tests than most other heavyweight prospects.
“It’s been a good journey. There have been a couple of setbacks obviously and a couple of serious injuries,” Warren said. “One was a very bad one to his eye [an injury he picked up during the defeat to Joyce]. That could have ended up meaning he had to pack up boxing. Then he had the injury to his leg [suffered in his knockout victory over Kevin Larena]. I saw the other day people saying he got knocked down three times. He wasn’t. He was knocked down once and took a knee twice because his leg was gone.”
Coping with matters once the first bell rings is just one of the things Dubois needs to deal with this weekend, he also has to be prepared for the occasion as a whole. He will be the ‘other man’ at the return of a hero. Warren has been around this kind of event many a time and knows exactly what he needs to see when he links up with Dubois in Poland.
“He’s got to stand his ground and be the boss”
“It’s all going to be about his temperament. I’m hoping he’s going to be exactly the same as he has been the last few times I’ve seen and spoken to him. He’s been quite confident and up on it,” Warren said.
“I was talking to Don Charles [Dubois’ trainer] and when he’s in that ring, they’re gonna leave him roasting in there. They’ll draw it out. Take the pads, don’t do too much warming up in the dressing room because he’ll cool down. Let him just focus on the fight rather than him waiting there and looking out at the crowd.
“They’ll do all they can for their man. I’d do all I could for mine. That’s the way it is.”
Although he hits tremendously hard, Dubois is undoubtedly up against it this weekend. The brilliant Usyk has operated at a much higher level ever since his days as an amateur and has worked out ways to beat every style of fighter. He won’t be in the slightest bit concerned about giving away height, reach or a few years to Dubois. The former cruiserweight king and current heavyweight champion will simply see a bigger, slower target. Dubois has to grasp on to every little edge he can find and – if he is to spring the surprise – utilising his physical advantages is a must.
“He’s a young man and he’s not just a puncher. Plus he’s got a good jab and good speed. He’s faster than people think he is. He’s not some old plodder. I really do think he’s got a great chance of doing it,” Warren said.
“What he can’t do is what Anthony Joshua did. He stood off him and was getting out jabbed by him. We can’t allow that. If he does, he’ll get beat. He’s got to stand his ground and be the boss. I said to him that it doesn’t matter where he throws his punches. Hit his arms, hit him anywhere. Hurt him. Let him feel the power. Get this man to think, ‘Wow, I’ve got twelve rounds of this.’”