The two British heavyweights meet for a fight which will create a divergent path for both men
Joe Joyce’s fight against rival British heavyweight Daniel Dubois next Saturday will show whether he is a legitimate challenger at elite level in the division.
Joyce left the Rio Games feeling robbed of the gold medal four years ago in a final for which he had spent years honing his skills, and now 35, unbeaten in 11 contests, he faces the most dangerous young fighter in the division in Dubois.
A win for Joyce at Church House, Westminster, in the contest rescheduled three time this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and he steps up for major paydays and big box office nights. But despite having the greater experience, the Surrey man, a fine art graduate, enters the ring as the underdog, “feeling insulted” that the bookies make Dubois, 23, who has knocked out 14 of his 15 victims in a 100 per cent win record, the favourite.
“The way the bookies have it is just crazy. It’s like I haven’t done anything and I’m just a journeyman,” Joyce said. “I’ve performed at a higher level, so that psychologically gives me an edge. We’ll see on the night if it’s going to be the young, hungry pup or the more seasoned veteran.”
Dubois will be under more pressure, and admitted: “I need to come through this one and win in devastating fashion. The doors will open and I’ll have the keys to a world title.”
Dubois has pledged to stop Joyce in his march towards Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. But Joyce believes he carries the kryptonite to wreck his opponent’s advance.
“I don’t plan on taking it to the 12th round. If I see an opportunity I will capitalise on it,” Joyce told Telegraph Sport. “He’ll be trying to knock my head off, I’m certain of that. I’ve got to make sure I don’t get tagged by any of those shots. It will be a fight that’s going to be toe-to-toe.
“Daniel looks great. He looks massive. But it’s not all about size or how good your body looks in the boxing ring. He’s got big muscle mass, so it’s going to be hard to keep throwing shots.
“It’ll be such an achievement when I beat him and silence all these critics.”
Dubois, meanwhile, fears no one in the division and foresees a world title fight within a year. Ranked No 2 by the World Boxing Organisation, the south Londoner could be in-line to face No 1-ranked Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk for the title should Britain’s Joshua vacate the title in search of a super-fight with Fury.
“I’d definitely take that on. He’s a talented boxer with a good boxing brain and good all round movement,” said Dubois, but he emphasised his focus is on “Juggernaut” Joyce this year.
“Whatever he does I’ve got an answer for it. If he tries to move in and fight me that’ll be better for me, that’s what I want, but if he tries to box I can do that too. I’m not worried about what he’ll try and do. I’m looking for a knockout. A devastating finish.”
Dubois, older brother of GB amateur squad and potential Tokyo Olympic boxer Caroline Dubois, said: “I feel that in this time period, I’ve grown. I’ve become better in every way. This stage in my career, this is definitely the biggest fight – the test. But it’s also another day in the office for me. I’m experienced enough and capable enough to handle anything.
“This fight will answer the questions about if I’m ready, the test fight. This is like a world title for me and that’s how I’m preparing for it.”
It could be a battle of boxing IQ, or could even be a shoot-out, reasoned Dubois. “It could come down to being a straight battle. He’s a straightforward fighter like myself,” he said.
“There’s not too many frills. But whatever scenario, I believe I win. However the fight happens, it’ll be a great fight.”
Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce is exclusively live for BT Sport subscribers on Saturday November 28. For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass