- Daniel Dubois is 12 to 18 months away from fighting the likes of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
- Dubois, promoted by Frank Warren, is a “silent but deadly” heavyweight who Warren wants to see fight and win a world title in the near future.
- Warren also promoted Tyson Fury.
- With so many top heavyweights all in the hunt for the world boxing titles, the division could be on the cusp of another golden era.
- Warren told Business Insider that representatives for Joshua, Wilder, and Andy Ruiz Jr. need to work together to ensure the big fights get made.
- And Warren reckons his prospect, who is still only 22, “is the future of heavyweight boxing” and the face of the sport.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The development of Daniel Dubois, a 22-year-old heavyweight, will be fast-tracked by the experienced British promoter Frank Warren so he can challenge elite fighters like Anthony Joshua in the near future.
Warren told Business Insider he sees Dubois, his most exciting and promising boxing prospect, as a “silent but deadly” athlete.
Dubois returns to competition on Friday when he fights for the Commonwealth heavyweight title against Ebenezer Tetteh at the Royal Albert Hall. It is the 13th fight in his career, one which has seen him rise up the world rankings in style, beating 11 of his 12 opponents by knockout.
His power is undeniable. Business Insider was ringside in July for his bruising stoppage-win over Tyson Fury’s cousin, Nathan Gorman.
The victory at London’s iconic 02 Arena saw Dubois rewarded with the British heavyweight title. It was his “Anthony Joshua moment” as Joshua won the same belt at the same venue in 2015 before going on to beat Wladimir Klitschko 18 months later.
Should Dubois pass his next examination against Tetteh, he will be tasked with trying to dispatch Joe Joyce in the next six months. That would be followed by a potential showdown against Joshua or the current WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder.
“Him and Joe Joyce, that would be a massive fight, and I’d like to get that done in the next six months,” Warren told Business Insider. He later added that he wants his heavyweight to fight for a world title just one year after that.
Warren knew he had a future superstar before Dubois turned pro
Even before Dubois’ debut professional bout, Warren says he knew he had something special. It was something he could nurture into a global superstar, akin to the work he put into promoting and developing former elite clients like unbeaten super middleweight Joe Calzaghe, the flashy featherweight Prince Naseem Hamed, and the wildly popular Englishman; Ricky Hatton.
“He’s got a quiet, determined attitude,” Warren told us. “He’s a confident boxer and not sidetracked by anything. He’s totally focused on being the world heavyweight champion, and that’s all he cares about. Before we did the deal [to sign him], I really did feel he would be the future of heavyweight boxing.
“I knew when we signed that contract. I had that massive feeling when I was sitting there, signing it, that he’s going to do the business.”
So how do you develop an amateur boxer into a professional sensation?
“It’s so important with boxers to learn their craft,” Warren said. And they do that by learning on the job. Warren’s team includes a matchmaker who selects the right opponent at the right time. This ensures that a fighter’s progression is gradual, from the regional level to national and then the world.
“It’s all about timing and hitting it right,” Warren said. “Picking your opponents and picking the time to make the right fight for the fighters. I don’t think we’re too bad at that. Our track record has been very good. We’ve delivered on guys who weren’t Olympians, like Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, and Naseem Hamed. It’s very important that we pick the right moments. It’s about a career, a marathon career.”
Boxers have longer careers than UFC fighters, Warren says
Warren told us that the way promoters develop novice pro boxers into accomplished and decorated athletes differs wildly from other combat sports, like mixed martial arts.
“They’re two different disciplines, or sports, whatever you want to call them,” he said. “With MMA, or using the UFC as the example, that is a brand in itself.
“You can sell tickets to the UFC. You can’t just sell tickets to boxing, it has to be because of a fighter. Who’s fighting, and what’s the name?
“Some people might just go to UFC because it’s a UFC event, and they have done a fantastic job of building their brand in a short space of time and developing it over the years.
“Boxers have got different personalities, different styles. Some are really exciting knockout merchants, or they could be a boxer, and you have to build on what their personality and style is, then build that model as far as the public perception is. For example, Daniel is a silent but deadly type of guy. Or you can have Tyson Fury who is an absolute extrovert. They’re two totally different characters.”
Above all, you’ve got to deliver where it matters most. “You’ve got to be able to fight,” Warren said. “If you can’t fight, you’ve had it. Again, with the UFC … they fight each other fairly quickly. I don’t believe they have really long careers. In boxing, it’s about the art of self-defence and it’s about learning your trade and building yourself up to challenge and win a world title.”
The traditional route for young and promising British boxers is to win a British title and then a Commonwealth belt before campaigning for a European strap. Once those honours have been won, it would not be long before that boxer got a shot at the world title.
For Dubois to go down this route, the belts – or the champions of those belts – need to be available. So far, they have been. He won the British title against Gorman and will hope to win the Commonwealth against Tetteh on Friday.
As well as negotiating a fight for Dubois against Joyce, probably for a defence of his British and Commonwealth titles, Warren is also working on a shot at the European belt, currently owned by the German fighter Agit Kabayel.
“Whether we can get European or not, I don’t know, we’re working on it. But there’s been no British heavyweight who has won all the belts. No one’s won the British, Commonwealth, European and the world heavyweight title,” Warren said. “No one’s done it. And it would be a nice achievement for Daniel if we can do it for him.”
Now Warren wants to make Dubois a transcendent TV attraction
Warren told us his next task is to make Dubois as well known in Britain and abroad as Anthony Joshua is. “The newspapers are picking up on him. We’re bringing him more to the attention of the British public. There’s features on him, a TV crew following him around, and a documentary will be out in the next six months.”
Warren said: “This gives him the exposure he requires, and builds his profile. Boxing writers all know about him now.”
Once that is achieved, the only thing he will need for Dubois to have truly hit the big time and be a name as well known as Joshua and Wilder in boxing, as known as Roger Federer in tennis, or Lionel Messi in world soccer, is to compete in a fight with crossover appeal.
Warren knows this. He wants this. He wants Dubois to fight and win against an opponent with a big name.
Could that name be Joshua?
“I got to tell you, I was a massive fan and I wanted to sign him,” Warren told us. However, Warren said Sky Sports got involved and because of the broadcaster’s relationship with Matchroom Sports, Joshua signed terms with the company’s group managing director Eddie Hearn, turning professional in 2013.
“He’s a young man and has got the tools,” Warren said. “But I don’t think his defence has been worked on hard enough. He was wobbled against Dillian Whyte, Klitschko knocked him down even though it took balls getting up, and against Parker he was apprehensive. You know he can get caught.”
Joshua lost his heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz Jr. in one of the upsets of the year. Warren said he never looked comfortable in that fight, and that if he were looking after the Briton, he’d never have booked the December 7 rematch in Saudi Arabia.
“I’d have wanted the rematch at a stadium in the UK,” Warren said. “At Cardiff, fill it up, and have every advantage. One thing about Ruiz … he knows he’s taken Joshua’s best shot, and he knows he has the tools and hand speed to give Joshua problems.” He could cause further problems later in the year, stalling Joshua’s route back to the top of the heavyweight world rankings.
What about Wilder?
“I would love to have had Wilder and think I’d have done a good job promoting him and bringing him through! He’s got personality,” Warren said. “And the fight with Tyson has brought him on a bit [in terms of popularity].”
Warren copromotes Fury who has beaten Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin. A February rematch with Wilder is expected to take place in Las Vegas in February, should Wilder overcome Luis Ortiz in their rematch on November 23.
“The Wilder and Fury rematch is a big fight in the States,” Warren said.
The cusp of another golden heavyweight era
With so many major players in the heavyweight division, from Fury, Wilder, Joshua, and Ruiz, through to the unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk, it appears like boxing is on the cusp of another golden heavyweight era. Moreso when you include Warren’s big prospect Dubois in the equation.
The 1970s featured many elite heavyweights like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier all vying for supremacy. Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis treated fight fans to another strong era in the 1990s.
Might we see a new golden era emerge in 2020 and beyond? “We made the fight with Wilder and Tyson,” Warren said. He later added that all the representatives of the heavyweights above need to work together to get the big fights made before a new golden era can truly begin.
Warren says that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn failed to land the Wilder fight. “Hearn was talking about Wilder fighting Joshua for ages, but they never made a move,” he said. “We made our move and made the deal, and they will fight again [in 2020]. It’s a done deal.”
Warren said if Joshua manages to beat Ruiz and Fury beats Wilder, then a superfight for the ages could be created – an all-British affair that would be as big for the country as England winning the World Cup in 1966.
“I think Anthony Joshua versus Tyson Fury would be the biggest crossover sporting event since England won the World Cup, bigger than the Ashes,” Warren said.
And when it comes to these crossover sporting events, Warren wants his prospect firmly in the mix. “Dubois is the stand-out.”
Warren said Ruiz and Joshua, and Fury and Wilder, could all be tied up with each other for rematches and trilogy bouts in the next year. “It is our job to bring our guy through to be next in line,” he said.
“I want Dubois to be fighting for a world title in 18 months.”
And considering Warren’s confidence in his fighter, it will be a world title he expects Dubois to win.