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Daniel 'Dynamite' Dubois is built like a tank, hits like a truck, but is so easygoing you almost do a double-take when he says softly, "I want to rip his head off" about his next opponent.
It's not exactly trash talk. The red-hot heavyweight prospect is often as shy outside the ring as he is explosive in it but, inside London's Peacock Gym where he trains, he's telling SPORTbible about the frustration behind an eight-month wait between fights.
"This is hell right now," he says, after he's finished pummeling a heavy bag so hard we almost considered throwing in the towel on its behalf. "I don't really enjoy much of it, the training, but it's gotta be done. We're not children anymore - this is our livelihood."
The 22-year-old is coached by Martin Bowers, who keeps his fighter's feet firmly on the ground. When asked how he feels about training a boxer widely viewed as the world's most exciting young heavyweight, Bowers says flatly: "Yeah, but this is heavyweight boxing - all of that can change with one punch, like a light switch." He clicks his fingers.
My time next week.
Blow away the cobwebs and then on to Slow Joyce. pic.twitter.com/tR6DhuSJTz
- Daniel Dubois (@DynamiteDubois) August 22, 2020
The next man up - the one whose head Dubois can't wait to rip off - is Ricardo Snijders, a late replacement for original foe Erik Pfeifer. Win on Saturday at BT Sport studios and a tasty bout with his fellow unbeaten Brit, Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce, should come next.
There's a few different versions around of the age you were when you first stepped in a boxing gym: four... six... nine?
Give or take, five years old. Let's say six when I first came here. My Dad used to train in the Peacock. He used to punch bags and tell everyone about me and how I'd be the next world heavyweight champion.
And I'd be over there, doing my push-ups in the corner; I had my own little routine. I loved those days. This is different. We're in hell and I've got to fight my way out of it.
Is it true you used to spend three hours just doing press-ups?
Can you believe that? [holds up his fist with flat, mangled knuckles]. That's the truth. Three hours. See, that's why I don't talk too much - I was always busy doing press-ups in the corner... [laughs].
Do you recall the first time you were actually in a fight? Were you scared?
I remember because it was right here! My first bout was in this ring behind us now. And I was just chasing the kid all around the ring - it was so funny. To watch, anyway, so I'm told. I don't know if he was enjoying it that much.
When did you first realise that you could punch?
Really from day one. I did a lot of strength training, I sort of knew I could punch before I'd even hit anyone. It's just a thing I've got. I think you're born with it - it's part of me. My dad used to hit the heavy bag just to stay in shape - and, boy, people used to say he used to hit it real hard. That's where I get my power from, my dad.
:boom: ' :boom:
22-Year-Old @DynamiteDubois is the future of heavyweight boxing. pic.twitter.com/yaInu3vcR7
- Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) August 23, 2020
You're such an easygoing guy, do you change before a fight or are you still the same?
No, I let the beast out. When it's fight night, I just want to win and I start changing. I think all fighters - all good fighters - have the same thing. You want to impress, you want to improve, you want to put on a show. So whatever places I have to go, however deep I have to dig within myself, I have to be ready to go there.
Let's throw some heavyweight names at you to get an instant take: Joe Joyce...
My next opponent, if I win on Saturday. Strong fighter, great engine. I've sparred a few rounds with Joe and it was good. I was 16 at the time, so it was early in my career - but I gave him a lot to think about. We gave each other a good workout. Now it will be a totally different story. I'm a different animal. I'm going to break him down.
He's the top man at the moment. I think he's the best out there. He's the WBC champion and whoever's got the green belt, I believe is the No 1.
You've also sparred him, right?
He jumped in for one round with me in Bolton, just before I turned pro. I was sparring his cousin Hughie and we did a round together - he was really overweight back then, so it was just quick... He's just as slippery as he looks though. He's a masterful boxer - he's learned his craft well.
He's an athlete, a good fighter as well - he's up there. Him and Tyson are on another level. Tyson is probably ahead now after his last performance, but Anthony is a serious, serious heavyweight. He's done everything that's asked of him and he keeps improving.
There's a story that you dropped AJ in sparring, but you don't tend to confirm it. Is that a code of honour thing, 'what happens in sparring stays in sparring'?
Yeah, a little bit - but it's also that I want to build my own respect now. That was before I turned over and it gave me a great launching pad in the pro game - made everyone interested! All these promoters suddenly wanted to sign me... 'Who's this kid?' But now I want to build my own respect.
You've tasted Joshua's power: what's that like?
Trust me, he's a big puncher. Any boxer who weighs over 15 stone is a big puncher - never believe it [when people say a heavyweight can't punch]. But Joshua is a great puncher.
Tyson Fury vs AJ in 2021: who wins?
Fury at the moment. His skill and his know-how, coupled with his confidence should beat Joshua. But it will be a really good fight. I wouldn't be surprised if it went the other way and Joshua won.
What do you make of Mike Tyson's ring return?
Well, it's supposed to be an exhibition, but it should be interesting. I'll watch it anyway! I'm a big fan of the guy. If Tyson comes back at any age, he's going to be dangerous. They say it's an exhibition but I don't think he's going to come out southpaw, dancing, so...
If you watch footage of a young Tyson, what are you picking up?
His attitude. The way the guy went through it and came out the other side a champion. Early in his life, he was so dedicated, the only way he could escape was by doing what he did - and he did it. To see someone do that in the sport that I'm in, knowing how hard it is, it's an inspirational thing to see.
In his prime, he was must-see every time. He was all business, he didn't come to play around. He came to beat you up. I enjoy that.
Is it true you've never been to a bar, or a club, never had a drink?
It's true, I've never been to a bar, I don't drink!
You've never had a pint before? SPORTbible will go and get one with you right now...
[laughs] You know, I would like to - but it's not really my priority right now. I'm so focused on my sport and my business - boxing is my life at this moment. And while this is going on, I need to sail this ship to its destination. Chilling out can come later.
Do you have a treat you look forward to post-fight? Bernard Hopkins used to allow himself three bites of cheesecake after a fight...
That's discipline, man. I just enjoy being around my family and their emotional support. I feed off that: the respect and love from my family and everyone else that's supported me is enough for me. I just relax and eat good food.
Back to the ring, your trainer won't like this question - but do you almost want to be involved in a war? To know what it's like to be a proper heavyweight slugfest?
I know that will happen, that fight is coming. We're fighters, we will have to go to war, there's no way around it. Eventually there might come to a point where skill doesn't matter anymore in a fight - and we're just there, toe to toe. We have to see who's got the more heart, the more ambition, the more will to carry on.
Do you sort of relish that day?
Yeah, I look forward to that pain and that suffering. I want to experience it, because otherwise I wouldn't even get out of bed for all this. This is hard work now, but that day is coming soon.
Watch Dubois vs Snijders - Saturday August 29, 7pm, BT Sport 1
All imagery: PA Images
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