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Dubois vs Joyce: Five big questions ahead of Saturday’s fight

Where and how will Saturday night’s battle of Britain be won and lost?

Frank Warren Announcement - BT Tower Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

After multiple postponements, the wait is finally over. On Saturday night, unbeaten British heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will face off inside the Westminster’s historic Church House. The British, Commonwealth, European, WBO International and WBC silver titles will all be on the line as the “Triple D” and the “Juggernaut” attempt to pull up a seat at the world’s heavyweight table.

In a clash of styles, experience, age and personality, Dubois-Joyce ticks all the boxes. But what is there to consider before the first bell chimes?

Age vs experience?

12 years separate these two Britons, and Joyce will be eager to make every day of experience count from the plethora of styles he has encountered over the years. As an amateur, Joyce was extremely successful. Golds at the GBs, Commonwealths and Europeans were eclipsed by Olympic silver in Rio – a disputed silver in a contest many believed he won against Tony Yoka.

As a professional, he’s only mixed it with winning records on the way to amassing an 11-0 one himself – a real rarity when turning over into the paid ranks. Bryant Jennings is without question the best name on Joyce’s record, with a 2019 victory over the American a notable notch on his belt of progression.

How to Watch Dubois vs Joyce

Date: Saturday, Nov. 28 | Start Time: 2:00 pm ET
Location: Church House - Westminster, London, England
TV: BT Sport (UK) | Stream: ESPN+ (US)
Live Online Coverage:

With youth and inexperience comes fearlessness, and Dubois has shown all the signs of focus ahead of this monster domestic clash. The 23-year-old has blitzed through 14 of his 15 opponents, with only Kevin Johnson hearing the final bell back in 2018. We saw a green, impatient version of “Dynamite” that night inside the Leicester Arena. Unable to shift “Kingpin”, Dubois decided to throw and throw rather than stepping back, using his footwork and being more selective in the attack. This may prove to be the biggest turning point in his short career, with coach Martin Bowers adding shot selection and smarter attacks to Dubois’ repertoire since.

As much as Joyce has seen every style the sport has to offer, there is a growing consensus that Dubois’ power is special. Dubois will need to fight smart and fight patient if he is to nullify the edge Joyce has in experience. A fight of this magnitude is new to Dubois, but without the roar of 20,000 fans inside London’s O2 Arena, one that he should find comfort in quickly. On the surface, he’s coping well. These two have previously met in sparring inside the GB gym in Sheffield, but much has changed since then, and well, sparring is sparring…

Which power will prevail?

Daniel Dubois v Kyotaro Fujimoto - WBC Silver and WBO International Heavyweight Titles Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Both Dubois and Joyce have undeniable power, but it comes in different forms. Dubois is athletic, dynamic and spiteful with his right hand. He’s begun to set it up beautifully off of a stinging jab and if he finds the target flush it’s generally goodnight.

Joyce has more thudding, progressive power that grows in the fight. He’ll chop away at you, walking forward and throwing countless shots, breaking the guard and breaking the heart of his opponent.

Dubois’ power is more suited to the early rounds; Joyce’s to the latter. Both men have stopped all but one of their opponents, and will both see their key to victory in coming inside the distance.

To address power we need to address punch resistance. If either man can land clean, how will it impact the fight?

Have either’s whiskers been tested?

“I’ve got a granite chin, nobody can move me,” Dubois told the media this fight week. “I’ve been buzzed but never shaken – pain is just part of the game.” It’s hard to argue with Dubois – we haven’t yet seen him properly tested with power inside the professional ring. Richard Lartey probably asked the biggest question of Dubois in the four rounds that he lasted last April. “Triple D” didn’t give the Ghanaian respect in their opening exchanges and a bigger more effective puncher may have got more success against the Briton that evening.

Nathan Gorman landed plenty of left hooks in Dubois’ following fight, but the Nantwich fighter has never been known for his power.

Joyce’s defence – or lack of – is quite the sight. The veteran has been happy to receive six to land seven at the start of his pro career, something that Ismael Salas and Adam Booth have worked tirelessly to correct during their time in his corner. His chin has proven to be granite, but his body less so? Joyce felt a big left hook to the body in the opening round of his fight with Bryant Jennings last summer, and Dubois would be wise to go downstairs early.

The question is whether either man has been tasked with taking a shot as heavy, or as constant as they will be this weekend. The answer is probably no.

Will Dubois’ engine hold up?

Joyce has gone the distance against Jennings, whereas Dubois has only tasted ten in his pummeling of Johnson. Joyce looks the more comfortable in a distance fight and will presumably fancy his chances the more and more the longer the fight plays out.

Dubois should be cautious about loading up too aggressively in the opening exchanges. This desire to finish the fight in the first nine or twelve minutes may play into the hands of Joyce – assuming he can keep Dubois off him and out of the way of any serious artillery.

Joyce’s work rate is unique in the land of the giants, and a real asset to him. It’s not just survival mode – Joyce can continue throwing combinations and thudding jabs whilst marching forward and asking questions of his oppositions defence.

Will Ismael Salas-less Joyce cause problems?

Boxing at The O2 Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

With the news breaking on Thursday that Joe Joyce’s head coach Ismael Salas failed his COVID-19 test, questions began to be asked of the effect on Joyce’s preparation. Steve Broughton and Jimmy Tibbs will now take Joyce’s corner with the Cuban trainer being forced to self-isolate and miss the fight.

Salas has been working on and off with Joyce throughout a tricky 2020, flying back and forth to the US to fulfil obligations with his other fighters. The implementation of his Cuban school of thought was designed to help Joyce with his head movement and fight management in the ring, with a heavy focus on technique rather than slugging and brawling.

This news is of course damaging to Team Joyce, but will it prove to be a game-changer? Joyce has chopped and changed coaches a lot as a pro and was without Salas for his comeback fight in July. If Salas’ techniques and teachings are well drilled into the psyche of Joyce, then on fight night he is the only man that can implement them.

Follow and contact Lewis Watson on Twitter @lewroyscribbles

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