- By Steve Bunce
- BBC Radio 5 Live boxing analyst
If Daniel Dubois goes in against Oleksandr Usyk thinking all he has is a hitter’s chance, he has no chance at all.
He will need an awful lot more than a single hit or a couple of hits to beat Usyk.
For Usyk to get hit on the chin and get knocked out at any point during the 12 rounds, you’d better hope he’s been preparing in a bar on a beach somewhere for the past two months. And we know that’s not the case.
Dubois has a better boxing brain than people give him credit for and I can make a case for him to win.
But let’s get this right, it will be a massive shock if he returns to the UK as unified world heavyweight champion. It will be up there with Lloyd Honeyghan beating Donald Curry almost 37 years ago.
More to Dubois than just a puncher
Dubois cannot hope to outbox Usyk over 12 rounds, but he can apply reasonable pressure. Part of that pressure is the power of his right hand.
Everyone forgets that Usyk was hit by some great shots from Anthony Joshua during the 24 rounds they shared. The Ukrainian won both matches, but lost rounds.
I was six feet away at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first game and I was two feet away in Saudi Arabia in the second leg.
Usyk danced and moved and outsmarted Joshua for 24 rounds. No, he outsmarted him for periods over 24 rounds. But he didn’t give AJ a boxing lesson throughout the two matches.
The Dubois camp will naturally say that Dubois hits harder. People in the AJ camp will disagree.
It’s irrelevant, both hit very, very hard.
The fact is, Joshua came close to being busy. Not by trying to knock Usyk out.
You have to throw punches and let your hands drop. But if you load up with big shots, you’ll wear yourself out. Dubois needs to throw jabs to the chest, body, shoulder, gloves.
He wants Don Charles in his corner – a smart and underrated trainer who has seen it all. If Charles can get Dubois to be a little awkward, a little sneaky, then he really has a chance.
I know there is much more to Dubois than just a puncher.
Hostile crowd will put it on Dubois
Dubois has to think a little bit in a fight for the first time in a very long time.
The only time he’s ever gone the distance was in a 10-rounder against Kevin Johnson in 2018. In each round, he learned on the job. He adjusted his feet. He didn’t waste his punches. He got better as time went on.
But since then he hasn’t had to think so much. I don’t mean that cruel, he has gone through most of his opponents.
Richard Lartey, Ebenezer Tetteh, Kevin Lerena (when he was dropped and injured three times in the opening rounds), these are not top 30 heavyweights.
The only exception was the loss to Joe Joyce in November 2020. Dubois lost rounds, although it was a fairly competitive fight, by not adjusting or thinking.
No one in the Dubois camp thought the Joyce fight would even be competitive, let alone dangerous. Dubois fully bought into and believed in the idea that he was invincible. He went into it with the wrong head.
We had Dubois’ former trainer Shane McGuigan on the 5 Live boxing podcast. He quite rightly pointed out that Daniel might not seem to like the pressure of fighting on the big stage.
To say he freezes might be too strong, but he certainly takes a few deep breaths in a big fight.
Well, the pressure is definitely going to be on Dubois when he gets to Poland and realizes that Usyk is being treated like a hometown hero and 40,000 people are in there with the Ukrainian flag.
It’s going to feel pretty hostile in there. Dubois is going to feel it.
Dubois can crush Fury-Usyk dreams
There are some who question whether Dubois is even worthy of a world title.
When Joshua was fighting for the world title, who did he beat in the top 20? When Tyson Fury fought for the world title against Wladimir Klitschko, he had beaten maybe one man in the top 20.
Who did Derek Chisora or Dillian Whyte beat to get a chance at Tyson Fury?
There is no such thing as “worthy” in boxing. You get where you bargain and not what you deserve.
Dubois has been brilliantly managed, brilliantly promoted, and he is now in this position. It’s that simple.
He got into position to fight Trevor Bryan for the WBA ‘regular’ title. Bryan was no world champion. But in boxing you don’t have to beat the best, you just have to be available.
For so long the talk has been about an undisputed Fury-Usyk fight. Well, Dubois can just ruin everything.
If he also wins a rematch, Dubois could walk away with two Usyk fights roughly £50m better off.
That’s why they box. That is why they are called prize fighters.
Steve Bunce spoke to BBC Sports’ Kal Sajad.
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