By Rob Maclean: Firstly, let’s not detract from the fact Joe Joyce (12-0, 11KO’s) was not a man ready to lose his unbeaten record last night. Despite obvious limitations, the fine art’s degree holder is a once in a million human being.
Committed, resolute, and, perhaps, his greatest strength of all… he knows his capabilities and skill set better than anyone. Despite taking tremendous punishment himself and, at times, looking recklessly incapable of landing anything other than his jab, he never lost confidence in his gameplan.
Joyce has taken the long hard road to get to this stage. Some may see the 35 years behind him as an obstruction in the success of his professional career, but on Saturday night, he called on every second of that experience. Years on the road, being the away fighter and facing insurmountable opposition has made him the kind of person who refuses to lose, evidenced fully in this fight.
Now, with respect paid, let’s turn our attention to Daniel Dubois (15-1, 14 KO’s). I, for one, despite knowing Joyce would not be an easy opponent to put away, felt Dubois had the power and skills to deal with Joyce. For moments and some rounds, I felt content this prediction would come to fruition, but as the rounds ticked away, so too did the confidence of Dubois. Visibly shaken between rounds, Dubois’ trainer Martin Bowers (who I felt did excellent with his prospect) produced the quote of the year in an attempt to spur his man, “This is the fight game now, you’re in it.”
It was a comment that was recognized by BT Sports commentators; it also resounded in myself… “is this Dubois’ introduction to the fight game?” Lest we forget, this is a 23-year-old man with little amateur experience. Dubois’ greatest win came against a decent but also untested prospect in Nathan Gorman (17-1, 11 KO’s), in a fight that Gorman couldn’t cope with the power of Dubois.
In fact, this is the case for each one of Dubois 15 opponents, all except the world level tested, battle-hardened American Kevin Johnson (35-17-1, 19 KO’s). Unlike Gorman, Johnson didn’t panic when he felt the power of Dubois; he rode shots on the ropes and escaped with a points defeat in the same way Joyce failed to panic. In some ways, it reminded me of the David Price v Tony Thompson fight, Thompson being the first opponent not to hit the deck upon taking a flush right-hand.
Now, let’s address the “quit” comments. Personally, I didn’t see a ring-side doctor check Dubois’ vision at any time in this fight. Clearly, he needed that; in fact, it’s been revealed since that his eye socket was broken.
I hope this offers Dubois some respite from the ‘haters,’ but this is the internet age, the hype-train’ age, and the one loss and done age. Likely this is just the beginning of the insults for the young fighter. At times I despise this sport in the modern age. Ultimately this is a young man facing challenges for the first time in his life, challenges most men will never have to overcome. Dubois did choose to take a knee and be counted out, this is a quit, but I felt a ring-side doctor should have stopped this before it got to that stage.
‘Triple D’ is not going to be able to rewrite the wrongs of Saturday night overnight. His eye will need to heal, his ego and self-belief will require rebuilding, and this comes with time. He needs to watch the fight back, acknowledge what he did correctly; he wasn’t ‘exposed’ in the traditional, “this fighter is out of his depth” sense. He was beaten by the more experienced, more confident, and ultimately more durable man.
Dubois hit Joyce with his full arsenal, but Joyce remained, with barely a scratch on his face. As stated before, he is a once in a million human being that can withstand incredible punishment. Dubois needs to look at what he can change, and certainly, defending against the jab needs improvement.
Joyce doesn’t have a fast, snappy jab, but a well-schooled out and back jab that follows a straight line; attribute this to the aforementioned experience. The human eye cannot detect the depth of an object coming toward it as well as, say, a hook coming from an angle.
It constantly peppered the face, most importantly, the eye of Dubois; it appeared he just accepted it; as a matter of fact, the jab was going to land. Whether he needs to move his head, or at least keep his guard tighter in an attempt to shorten the distance to deflect the jab.
Carl Frampton and David Haye were excellent for BT Sport last night, and this was acknowledged by the presenter. “Quality sparring,” David Haye being a great believer in this, and I still remember the image of him preparing for the Tyson Fury fight, surrounded by giants in Wilder, Towers, and Wach. It was Carl Frampton who referenced this as one of the reasons why Dubois lost this fight.
And, of course, much has been made of the opponents before Joyce, even by Joyce himself. Snijders, Fujimoto, Tetteh were all unproven, unknown, and ultimately incapable opposition. Ironically I feel that Dubois will need another couple of fights against this standard of opposition once the eye has healed.
He needs to rebuild his confidence again before he faces a challenge. I also hope he sticks withBowers, he has a good connection with him and gave him all the correct advice, but sadly he couldn’t change what had led Dubois to that stage in the fight.
Lastly, I hope Dubois does rebuild and return a better fighter, he has the skillset and power to be a very useful contender in the heavyweight division, but he needs work. Frank Warren was discussing a rematch, but I don’t see this being beneficial for either fighter, just Warren himself and the viewing public. As for Joyce, roll Usyk, I’d be very interested in seeing if Usyk can avoid punishment from Joyce for 12 rounds.