Daniel Dubois: Road to Recovery

“You’re going to see fireworks,” said “Dynamite” Daniel Dubois, ahead of his fight with “Juggernaut” Joe Joyce on October 24.

Dubois added, “You’re going to see a great technical boxing display from me, with speed and power. I’m going to put it all together and it won’t go the distance. I believe I’ll chop him down and get the stoppage. I think my persistence, pressure, speed, and finding those openings will allow me to take him out.” Coach Martin Bowers added. “Dan’s got a great boxing brain and he has so much more than just knockout punches. He’s been boxing since he was a little kid, he knows his way around the ring, he knows how to work a fighter out and find the openings. All we do in the corner is adjust and tweak it a little bit. I’m very happy with everything he’s doing.”

With the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles at stake, both unbeaten fighters are eager to lock horns in their October showdown. However, this is not the first time they have prepared to face each other. The stage was set for April 11 this year at the O2 Arena, London, when they hit an almighty bump in the road. Dubois recalled. “Coronavirus. Nobody saw it coming and nobody knew what to do. The fight was on, then it was off, then it was on, then it was definitely off and we all went into lockdown wondering what was going to happen next. It was a massive shock to the system after preparing for weeks and weeks. It was like all that just went out of the window.

“The other side is the financial one. If you don’t fight, you don’t get paid. You firstly want to progress as a fighter and as that happens, the financial side also improves, but with coronavirus, it put a stop to both. Thankfully, we’ve been able to get back into the gym and we’re on the route to recovery to where I was. The rest will be laid out ahead of me and I just need to walk the path.”

Bowers added. “We shut the gym on March 23rd and then that was it for over two months. To be fair, me and Dan had the odd chat here and there, but, to be honest, for the first few weeks nobody knew what was going on and we all had to settle into our own routines. Dan settled into a routine of training gently at home and then we came back to the Peacock [gym] on June 1st and it’s been full-on since then.

“Financially it’s been manageable and it is what it is. The main concern has always been the mental and physical state of the fighters. Back in February and March, we were getting ready for Joe [Joyce] and had fighters flying in from America. We had sparring done, we had hotels booked, food laid on, et cetera, and then all that went up in the air.

“Also, you have to remember that Daniel had five fights last year and was never out of training. When this pandemic started, that threw the brakes on for all of us. But I like to look at the positives from that break, that rest. For Daniel, that break was probably needed and has maybe been refreshing for him and we’ve both come back with that renewed enthusiasm.”

The sparring Bowers refers to was organized by a man who is somewhat of a dark horse and major player within boxing circles. Rick Glaser is a world-renowned agent, broker, and consultant with three decades of boxing experience to his name. He’s the largest supplier of sparring partners in the world, with previous clients including Lennox Lewis, Kostya Tszyu, and Oscar De La Hoya.

Glaser organized Dubois’s sparring partners for his last two fights and had provisionally organized solid sparring partners for the Joyce fight, who not only matched his opponent’s profile in height and power, but also boasted unbeaten records. As the Joyce fight approaches, Glaser will be on-call for his next cohort of fighters for Dubois.

Although the doors to the Peacock gym have opened, the overall setup is rather different. Bowers explained. “The public is not allowed in the gym; it’s purely for the fighters and trainers and we are operating in a bubble for safety reasons. Everyone has been tested for the virus and been given the all-clear and we are constantly being retested, which is a good thing. The week prior to coming back to the gym on the 1st of June, all the fighters took their temperatures every night before they went to bed and then sent it over and we had that information at hand. We’re still doing that now, but also measuring it on the morning before they come to the gym.”

Dubois is one of eleven siblings and is not the only boxer in his household to have been affected by COVID-19. His sister Caroline, at only nineteen years old has been described by many as an extraordinary talent. Since 2016 she has won the European amateur crown four times, the world championships, and also the youth Olympic games. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was all set to be Caroline’s defining moment as she gunned for gold on the podium. Brother Daniel expressed his disappointment: “She’s been knocked for six. Having to make weight and hold that weight for the Olympics and all the qualifying events has been hard on her. Then, when it was canceled, I was gutted. We all really wanted to see her in the Olympics, which is what she’s been training so hard for. I really wanted to see her go for the gold, but we can’t do nothing about that now. We just need to wait and see if the Olympics will go ahead next year. If it doesn’t, she still has options. She can turn pro, or she can wait for the amateur scene to pick up again. She’s still young and has a great career ahead of her. The main thing is the family is all fit and healthy and untouched by the pandemic.”

With a great deal on the line for October clash, both Dubois and Joyce have wisely chosen to take tune-up fights in the interim. On August 29, Dubois will face unbeaten German Erik Pfeiffer (7-0, with five KOs), behind closed doors at the BT Studio, London.

The Hamburg resident is no walkover by any stretch. In addition to his unbeaten professional resume, he also boasts two bronze medals at the 2011 and 2013 amateur world championships. Dubois relishes the encounter. “This is perfect preparation for the Joyce fight. He’s undefeated and he’s coming to win, which is what I need. Somebody who will throw punches back and test me out. This will show what I’ve currently got in me. He’s got a good amateur pedigree, but I intend to find the gaps, create the openings, and take advantage of them. I see this fight being similar to the Nathan Gorman fight, but I want to be sharper to show that I’ve improved since I fought him.”

Coronavirus data proves the disease is still a massive threat and boxing behind closed doors will become a short-term norm. Dubois seemed unfazed. “The sound of the crowd doesn’t really have an effect on me. I’ve been in boxing gyms my whole life and whatever environment I’m in, that’s not going to affect what I’m going to do in the ring. Whether there are people spectating or not, I still need to be applying the same level of concentration to the fighter in front of me.

“We’ve been doing a lot more press outside and, to be honest, I’ve been enjoying it. The whole experience is a bit strange, very different, but that’s where we are at with the pandemic. It’s still going on and we have had to adapt and probably will need to adapt even more moving forward.”

Bowers added. “In the build-up to the fights, we will be in lockdown, which means we have to stay in the bubble we’ve created. You stay with your group of fighters and nobody is allowed to enter that bubble. On the actual night, it was facemasks and visors originally, but I don’t see the point of all that, because we’ll have been together all day on the night of the fight and we are tested on the day as well. But listen, whatever the guidelines are, we will follow, because we want our sport to be shown on television in a positive light.”

Dubois and Joyce had their first face-off in four months on July 21, albeit with a clear plastic partition between them. Ever since the fight’s announcement at the back end of 2019, Joyce’s outspoken manager Sam Jones has been doing his best to goad Dubois. Dubois commented: “He doesn’t get under my skin. I’m a fighter and I’m all about fighting. I look at him as this character who is an advertisement for the fight and if he’s selling tickets with what he does, I implore him to continue!”

Following suit, Joyce has embraced the opportunity to rile Dubois with his lack of amateur pedigree. In addition to picking up the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Joyce’s other accolades include bronze at the world championships in 2015, and gold at the Commonwealth and European games in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Twelve years older than Dubois, Joyce is confident his amateur resume will be too much for DDD.

Dubois laughed before adding, “We probably started boxing at the same time to be honest! I started boxing when I was about six years old, so I’ve probably got a lot more experience than him. Perhaps not at the level he has as an amateur, fighting against men, but that also means I haven’t had to take as many heavy punches as him. He’s fought some really good fighters, but when he tries to hide behind what’s he’s done as an amateur, that doesn’t affect me at all. It all comes down to what he can produce on the night in October. As a professional, he has a lot of determination and is so focused on winning and pulling off his game plan. He never gives up and has a good fighting heart. However, I think his speed, rhythm and timing is all off. He’s managed to somehow make it work against his other [professional] opponents, but it won’t work with me.”

With the UK experiencing a golden period in heavyweight boxing, Hannibal Boxing sought Dubois thoughts on the current kings. “Fury is probably the best heavyweight in the world right now. I believe he won the first fight against Wilder, he won the second with a dominant display and I don’t see any way that Deontay can beat him in the third fight.

“If Joshua and Fury were to meet, though . . .  I don’t know. That fight is different. I’d probably lean towards Fury again, but Joshua is a solid unit and he showed he has the ability and discipline to improve technically in the [Andy] Ruiz [Jr] rematch. That’s a good fight.” It’s worth noting that Dubois has sparred both fighters and gave a very good account of himself, as an eighteen-year-old.

Rick Glaser commented on where he sees Dubois in the global pecking order. “The UK has Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and mandatory-challenger Dillian Whyte. It’s a good era for British boxing at present. I see Daniel as the next great heavyweight from Great Britain. I see things about Daniel which are very special and he has a great team around him. Frank Warren as his promoter, the Bowers brothers managing and training him and, of course, he trains at the legendary Peacock gym.

“He’s well-spoken, a gentleman outside of the rin,g and inside the ring he works behind two great fists. No question about it. I see great things coming from him. The sky’s the limit. If he’s not heavyweight champion of the world within three years, I’d be really, really disappointed with my prediction.”

Bowers gave his thoughts on the road ahead for DDD. “We still have a fight to win before we fight Joe Joyce, so we are not looking beyond Pfeiffer at the moment, never mind the world scene. Before coronavirus, we were on a roll and Dan was moving forward and boxing as a sport was looking great and there was a great buzz in the gym because a number of the lads were also fighting on Dan’s undercards. We now need to restart that, like every sport is trying to do. It’s not easy and nobody is totally sure how we will try to get back to where we used to be, but we seem to be on the right path. Time will tell on all fronts. With Dan, we are in no rush. We started this journey with a goal in mind of being world champion and that hasn’t changed. Whether it takes longer, shorter, quicker, it doesn’t matter. As long as we get there and enjoy the journey along the way, that’s the main thing.”


About Paul Zanon 30 Articles
Paul Zanon has written eight books, with almost all of them reaching the number-one bestselling spot in their respective categories on Amazon. He has co-hosted boxing shows on Talk Sport and has been a pundit on London Live Boxnation.  He is a regular contributor to Boxing Monthly and a number of other publications. Paul is member of the British Boxing Writers Club. Paul is the author of The Ghost of Johnny Tapia, published by Hamilcar Publications. Connect with Paul on Twitter.