Monday, June 13, 2022

The Redemption Of Daniel Dubois

A fighter’s career can at times resemble the twists and turns of a good book. With any good story, the normal process at least in the context of a book, is normally chronicled through various chapters. One could say that a fighter’s career should be thought of in a similar way.

It was not long ago that Heavyweight contender  Daniel Dubois was one of the division’s hottest rising stars. By quickly establishing himself as a “Knockout Artist,” it seemed as though Dubois may have been on a relatively quick path towards a shot at a version of the World Heavyweight championship.

An issue that fighters that were in Dubois’ position typically face as they continue to score quick knockouts is skeptics that all too often express both opinions and doubts as to how good a fighter might be. Although there is usually a point where a fighter is tested and are able to quell those skeptics, there are times when either criticisms remain and/or a fighter comes up short when tested.

For Dubois, he would come up short in November 2020 when he was stopped by fellow unbeaten Heavyweight Joe Joyce in a bout for the British, Commonwealth, and European Heavyweight championships. Although the end for Dubois in that fight came as a result of being dropped by a hard jqb and suffering a broken eye socket, which resulted in the fight being stopped, it is at times difficult for a fighter to shake off a label that can be placed on them as a result of a loss.

In this case, it was the opinion of some that Dubois could have continued in that fight. It should be no secret to longtime readrrs that this observer has at times called out such comments, which are often made by fans. The primary reason why I have done this on occasion though everyone is entitled to their own point of view is because more often than not, such opinions are rooted in bias and often tend to ignore facts as a means of justifying the narrative. The obvious fact that was ignored by those who felt that Dubois quit in the fight against Joyce was that he had suffered a severe injury to his left eye and was not able to continue.

While yours truly does not intend to criticize a point of view that a fan might have, which in an era of ever advancing technology and social media there is no shortage of opinions on just about any subject one might think of, I do feel that there are times when folks allow their bias to influence their comments and in the case of a fighter like Daniel Dubois, it was not exactly justified for him to have a label placed on him even though he did come up short in suffering the first loss of his career to Joe Joyce by knockout.

A saying that this observer has come to believe in and appreciate that can be applied to a fighter that suffered a setback like Dubois did is, it is often how a fighter deals with setbacks/defeats that will truly determine what they are made of.

After compiling two knockout wins following the loss to Joyce, Dubois found himself in a position to face a top contender in the division in the form of undefeated Trevor Bryan. While the fight against Bryan had an interim/regular championship designation attached to it as far as the World Boxing Association (WBA) Heavyweight ratings were concerned, this fight represented something more valuable for Dubois. An opportunity.

For all it’s flaws, Boxing is after all a sport of opportunity. In this case, this fight not only presented Dubois with the opportunity to move himself closer to a potential world title shot, but more specifically, it offered the opportunity of redemption for him in a fight that would have significant attention. When the two met on June 11th at the Miami Jai Alai Casino in Miami, FL it was simply time to see whether Dubois was ready for this opportunity. Although I stated in previewing this bout that Daniel Dubois’ biggest asset was his punching power, he showed something that was a bit surprising in this fight even for a seasoned Boxing lifer like yours truly. Despite his earned reputation as a power puncher, Dubois implemented a measured tactical approach in this fight from the opening bell. Now, the reason why I was surprised was not so much the choice of tactics Dubois used, but more specifically the patience he showed.

A misconception that some can have about fighters that are able to garner a reputation as a “Knockout Artist” is that the fighter simply has one objective, to seek and destroy. What can be overlooked however, is the tactics that can be used to set up a fight ending by knockout. Patience was the key for Dubois as he quickly established a hard right hand as the focal point of his offense, but also worked off his jab. The patience he had was displayed by the way he controlled distance not allowing Bryan the opportunity to get close where he may have been able to land something that may have turned the ebb and flow in his favor in an exchange of offense. This along with periodic offense to Bryan’s body prevented him from getting into any sort of rhythm.

It also did not take long to see the effects of Dubois’ right hand on Bryan as he frequently was stunned and hurt by the Dubois right hand. Despite the one-sided tempo of the combat, the thought did cross my mind that perhaps Bryan’s strategy was to weather whatever Dubois had in the early rounds and gradually step up his output as the fight progressed with the thinking that stamina could be an issue for Dubois. While this is usually a wise approach against a power puncher, the flaw with the strategy at least in regard to this fight was Bryan was not active enough in the early going and the fight was fought at such a pace that the issue of stamina was not likely to become an issue for Dubois as at no point was he over aggressive and seemed as though there was a possibility of punching himself out. This can be directly attributed to his patience in waiting for the opportunity for a knockout to come to him as opposed to trying to force it and in doing so, potentially put himself at risk and give Bryan the chance to turn the momentum in his favor.

The opportunity for Dubois to end the fight came in round four. As he had done in previous rounds, Dubois staggered Bryan with a right hand and this sent Bryan almost scrambling in an attempt to get his feet under him. The effects of the punishment however, were all too evident and Dubois sensing that the end was near pounced with a short flurry of punches that ended with a flush left hook to the jaw sending Bryan down hard on the canvas. The fight was over as Bryan failed to beat the count.

While obviously this victory should be viewed as the best of his career to date, Daniel Dubois executed a near perfect fight plan that one might say will be implemented by other fighters throughout the sport in terms of how to pace themselves and use patience. Now as the WBA’s top contender, Daniel Dubois will likely wait for the outcome of the upcoming rematch between undefeated IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO world champion Oleksandr Usyk and former champion Anthony Joshua before deciding his next move.

No matter what is next for Daniel Dubois, his setback against Joe Joyce should be viewed as just that a setback. Simply put, Dubois has shown in now three fights since that loss that he can bounce back and if one is objective, he has redeemed himself by winning a significant fight that may indeed lead to an even bigger opportunity. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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