Daniel in the lion’s den: Dubois has it all to do if he is to spring the ring upset of the decade as he prepares to take on Oleksandr Usyk
- Daniel Dubois is determined to cause a major upset against Oleksandr Usyk
- Dubois will adopt a different tactic to Anthony Joshua’s ‘tentative’ approach
- Ahead of the fight, Dubois embarked upon on an army diet to help his cause
Tom Cruise could supply a working title for Daniel Dubois as he makes his bid from nowhere to wrest a cluster of world heavyweight titles from Oleksandr Usyk: Mission Improbable.
Leonardo DiCaprio might lend the title of one of his most entertaining movies for Oleksandr The Great to send a warning message to his precocious London challenger: Catch Me If You Can.
Therein lies the essence of tonight’s encounter in a Polish football stadium which will be packed with 40,000 of Usyk’s brother Ukrainians imploring him to deliver another boxing masterclass on this, their embattled country’s Independence weekend.
Dubois comes to the biggest night of his young life from being forced to retire with an eye socket shattered by Joe Joyce, followed by the injuring of a knee as he was knocked down three times in the first round by Kevin Lerena before recovering to stop the unlikely South African.
Dynamite Daniel — a justifiable nickname for a fighter with serious punching power — appears relaxed before his date with destiny but he knows that in order to spring the ring upset of the decade, he will have to knock out a man who has never been put down in his professional career, let alone defeated.
Daniel Dubois is prepared for a difficult task as he aims for an upset against Oleksandr Usyk
Dubois says that it is his time for success as he prepares for his fight against Usyk in Poland
Anthony Joshua was tentative against Usyk but Dubois is set to take a different approach
Of the impassioned crowd awaiting him, Dubois, for whom this will be the first exposure to such an overwhelming atmosphere, says: ‘I will shut them out. I will have tunnel vision in the ring. I will be focused solely on ripping all those belts from him. They are not going to stop me achieving my dream.
‘It will be all the sweeter because I will have beaten a great champion. Usyk, like Anthony Joshua, has had his glory moments in the Olympics and with world titles. Now it’s my time. He cleaned up at cruiserweight and took the heavyweight titles from AJ. But now he will find out about fighting a bigger, younger man.’
At 36, Usyk is 11 years the elder but has shown no signs yet of his technical brilliance dimming nor his lightning speed diminishing.
Dubois says: ‘Joshua was tentative against him in their two fights. I will be going to put it on him. Using my size, my strength, my power and my youth to break him down.
‘I need to bully him. To meet him head on like a train and go right through him. He’s had his day. I will make it rough and terrible for him. Even if it risks having a point deducted by the referee.’
That implied realisation he would be highly unlikely to get the decision if this goes the distance will spur him to seek an early finish.
Dubois weighed in for the fight at the lightest poundage of his career, and half a stone below his last fight. At 233lbs, he is still a stone heavier than Usyk’s 220lbs.
Dubois says that in order to get the better of Usyk on Saturday he will have to ‘bully’ him
After electing to switch trainers to Don Charles, Dubois feels he made the right decision
Dubois went on an army diet ahead of the fight, which he feels will be beneficial in the contest
‘I went on an army diet,’ says Dubois, who has clearly sacrificed some of his natural heavyweight advantage in hope of neutralising some of Usyk’s fabled speed.
‘The food was terrible but I’ve got through it and I feel good. Even more confident that I can win.’
Should he do so, he would throw a grenade into the mega-millions plans for Usyk and Tyson Fury to plunder the riches of Saudi Arabia in the first fight for the undisputed world heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.
And his life would change dramatically, not only by inheriting that wealth. By nature unassuming and averse to the limelight, he says: ‘I will have to accept the fame and all the celebrity appearances. It goes with the success and I’m ready now to enjoy it. I feel I’m growing and maturing.’
The question remains as to whether a sudden change of trainer immediately before the fight represents a risk which makes him even more the underdog. Don Charles takes over from Shane McGuigan for the first time. Dubois says: ‘My father and I decided we needed to choose the right man for this job and that’s felt right in training. I’m ready.’
The brave words cannot disguise the monumental scale of the task. The team argue Dubois is bound to catch up with Usyk with one crushing blow at some point and their man certainly is a monstrous puncher. But even though Usyk does take risks himself when launching his rapid-fire onslaughts, there is no evidence yet that he can be taken out by a single shot.
The only time he has hit the canvas was in a world amateur fight with the heavy-hitting Artur Beterbiev.
That was inflicted by a body-punch, which is encouraging Dubois to believe he can do critical damage in the same area. The only problem with that assumption is that Usyk got up to win.
There is a suspicion in the Dubois camp that Usyk is taking his opponent for granted
Dubois will have to deal with early blows from Usyk if he is to shock the boxing world
And although he is a natural cruiserweight, the division in which he was undisputed world champion, his chin has withstood being tested by heavyweights. Joshua did land one big right-hander on Usyk in each of their fights but both times he came straight back with stinging combinations.
There is a suspicion in the Dubois camp that Usyk, in regarding this as a warm-up for Fury in the new year, is complacently taking this opponent for granted.
Even if so, the issue is complicated further by Usyk being a southpaw. That stance negates the ramrod left jab which is one of the main weapons in the armoury of Dubois, who had such trouble with the right-leading Lerena.
Dubois has a puncher’s chance but will need to detonate several of those bombs early to turn the world of heavyweight boxing on its head. Otherwise, Usyk will dance and dazzle away to a late stoppage or a clear points victory, either of which he knows to be so vital to Ukrainian morale on this patriotic weekend.
Usyk v Dubois for the WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine heavyweight titles is live tonight on TNT Sports Box Office
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