Daniel Dubois: ‘You Have To Be Ruthless... You've Got To Be Ready To Die In There’
"Never in a million years," says Daniel Dubois when SPORTbible asks if he ever imagined 'sharing' a major fight night with Mike Tyson.
Dubois faces his biggest test on Saturday, taking on fellow undefeated heavyweight Joe Joyce in London, before Tyson makes his shock return against Roy Jones Jr in an exhibition bout in the US.
The explosive 23-year-old Brit names Tyson as one of his boxing idols but in contrast to the young 'Iron Mike', Dubois is so chilled, so easygoing, away from the ring. Does he have to summon some of that Tyson viciousness on fight night?
"Of course, you have to be ruthless or else they'll take it away from you," he says evenly. "You've got to be ready to die in there, in a way. So I'm preparing myself mentally, physically, spiritually to make sure I go to war - and that I come out victorious."
The long-awaited clash with Joyce is a mouthwatering one. Dubois is the younger man by 12 years and the bookies favourite, but 'Juggernaut' Joyce is the proven fighter. He boasts an Olympic silver medal and a higher quality of opposition in his 11 pro fights (all wins, 10 by knockout).
"There's definitely an extra edge before this," says Dubois (15-0, 14 KOs). "Joe's strengths are his will and his plodding style. He keeps coming and he stays consistent. They say: 'the basics work' and that's what he's used in his career.
"But he's never met a fighter like me before. I've got what it takes to beat him and I refuse to lose. So it's gonna be a tremendous fight."
While 'Dynamite' Dubois lacks Joyce's amateur experience, he has sparred some of the best in the world: Joyce himself, Anthony Joshua - who Dubois reportedly knocked down - and Tyson Fury. For all of one round.
Both agree that Fury was hugely overweight and dressed in street clothes back in 2017 when he suddenly hopped over the ropes for three minutes of action with Dubois, who was sparring Fury's cousin, Hughie. But as Tyson Fury tells it, he also managed to lose a shoe in the ring early on.
"I can't exactly remember that, but it was quick!" says Dubois, laughing. "He has those fast feet so maybe I didn't notice. It was just a round, he jumped in - then he was gone."
"I went up there to spar Hughie before my pro debut. So it was an amazing experience and I keep those memories to heart.
"They have had good things to say about me - Tyson, [his father] John Fury and everyone else up there. It was positive feedback after the spar, so I'm grateful."
One thing Dubois shares with the 2020 version of Fury, at least, is a relentless dedication to training. A pre-fight video on Instagram shows Dubois using the strongman classic - Atlas stones - in preparation for Joyce; hefting the giant boulders onto a head-height shelf.
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"That's really the first time I've played around with them stones," he says breezily, as if he was skimming them across a pond. "Yeah, good fun. Changes up training, you know? You just do the same thing a lot of the time in the gym. When I get my time away from the gym, I try to mix it up."
Sorry, come again, Daniel: you hulk boulders around in your spare time, away from actual training? Pulling trucks with his teeth on World's Strongest Man is surely next.
"I don't want to work that hard!" he says, laughing. "It certainly is tough, I can tell you that. The day after [the Atlas stones], I felt it all over: really sore, really messed up. But what don't kill you, makes you stronger."
Dubois talks like a man without the weight of the world on his shoulders, despite the incredible hype surrounding him.
The 6ft 5in Greenwich-born puncher has been billed as a future heavyweight champion, one that looks the 'total package' early in his career. Such rich praise doesn't just come via his promoter, Frank Warren. Showtime, one of the major boxing networks in the US, once listed him as the No 1 prospect with the most potential in the sport - not just at heavyweight, but across all divisions.
"I've got to prove myself to myself more than to anyone else," he responds. "That I'm the next big thing or the next best prospect, the next whoever... Mike Tyson and all the greats.
"I've still got to prove that - make sure those words are true and they come to fruition. That's all I'm worried about."
You can ask Dubois about anyone from Joshua ("A dream fight, I'm sure we'll get it on one day") to Oleksandr Usyk ("A talented fighter but he is only a cruiserweight - you can stop him in his tracks"). However he always finishes with: "But right now I'm focused on Joe."
He is right not to be distracted. Dubois has passed every test so far, but this is a far stiffer challenge. One that's begun with Joyce - another softly-spoken heavyweight - trying to get under Dubois' skin with a few digs.
"Whatever he says, whatever he does, it's no effect on me, you know?" he responds. "I don't really don't get into the emotional stuff, it's just ice-cold business for me.
"This fight could go fast or slow, late or early. If I can get him out early on, then believe me: I will. If we have to do the rounds, wear him down and break his will, then we'll do that. I'm prepared to win by any means necessary.
"Then, once I've done my business, I'll sit back and watch big Mike [Tyson] do it. See him go through the motions again."
Joe Joyce be warned: Daniel Dubois will not just be going through the motions on Saturday night.
Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce, Saturday 28th November, is exclusively live for BT Sport subscribers. Sign up to watch, contract free, with BT Sport Monthly Pass. For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass
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