This Saturday (2 pm ET, ESPN+ in the US and 7 pm, BT Sport in the UK) from London, heavyweight hopefuls Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will clash in an important showdown for the division, with a likely world title shot coming to the winner sooner than later, perhaps in 2021.
The 23-year-old Dubois (15-0, 14 KO) has bashed his way through his opposition with explosive power and athleticism, while the 35-year-old Joyce (11-0, 10 KO) was a late comer to the sport who nonetheless took a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, and is looking to make his move as a pro.
Who wins this intriguing matchup? Our staffers make their picks.
Joe Joyce is built like a refrigerator and also moves with all the grace of one. He’s got a cinder block head and a chin he’s either not at all afraid to have tested, or he just doesn’t have very good defensive ability. My feeling is that Frank Warren would probably not risk a 23-year-old rising star like Dubois against a guy like Joyce if Warren wasn’t quite sure Dubois will get the better of things and score a good win for himself.
Odds-wise, Joyce is an underdog but not an enormous one, but there’s reason to believe Dubois is simply too young, too athletic, too explosive for him. But I have a suspicion! If Joyce can eat some early shots from Dubois, maybe work to smother him and put his weight on the youngster, this could turn fast in the middle rounds. Dubois has only been past the fifth round one time, against Kevin Johnson back in 2018, and Johnson wasn’t making him work. Joyce will. Joyce will bring pressure. Dubois could absolutely exploit Joyce’s weaknesses, and they are potentially very big problems. But I’m a degenerate gambler and a “take a wild cut once in a while” kinda guy even here where I’m not betting on anything, so I’m going with Joyce to weather the storm, pour on the pressure, and stop a ragged Dubois when Ian John Lewis steps in late. There is every reason to pick Dubois here, but whatever, I like to have fun. Joyce TKO-10
I hate to be a dreamcrusher but I just have a hard time seeing Joe Joyce live out this fantasy of becoming a heavyweight world champion. I mean, the man’s a decent fighter but there’s a lot of ground for him to cover and he’s already 35 years old. Time just isn’t on his side. But even if it were, is Joyce good enough? I don’t think so. Again, Joyce isn’t a bad fighter, but there isn’t anything special about him and here he’ll be going up against a much younger and fresher fighter in Dubois, 23.
In fact, when breaking down both fighters, I don’t really see what clear advantages Joyce has in this matchup. I think this fight starts out sort of tentative but think things will eventually heat up with some big exchanges. I’m going to favor Dubois in those instances and think he’ll ultimately find a place to do some damage. Dubois TKO-8
How to Watch Dubois vs Joyce
Patrick L. Stumberg
Joe Joyce is a good fighter, but every flaw he has seems to play right into Dubois’ hands. “The Juggernaut” relies on his pressure and toughness to compensate for his poor defense and glacial movement; even Michael Wallisch landed every right hand he threw. That’s not even remotely tenable against Dubois, who if nothing else hits like a freight train carrying other, heavier freight trains. Joyce’s ideal style of fight ends with him sporting a fist-shaped dent in his skull.
If Joyce does manage to tough his way through Dubois’ artillery, he’s got an excellent shot at victory. Dubois has effectively faced zero adversity in his career; Nathan Gorman, his most notable foe to date, mentally checked out after getting dropped in the third, so we don’t know whether “Dynamite” will turn out to be a frontrunner. Unfortunately for Joyce, that’ll remain a mystery. They collide in the center and Dubois bombs him out before long. Dubois TKO-2
There is no doubt that Joyce holds significant value in this fight. The Olympic silver medalist has a wealth of experience, bludgeoning power and a trainer in Ismael Salas who has improved his movements and elusiveness from a fighter who would previously trudge forward to exchange leather. This new(er) version of Joyce has the tools to force Dubois to show us his best side in order to gain victory. Thing is, I think that’s exactly what will happen. For all of Joyce’s strengths, Dubois still holds the key with a massive right hand. He sets it up so well off a spiteful left jab and has improved his footwork tenfold in order to make his power punches pay. Joyce will attempt to outbox Dubois in the early rounds and hope that he can outwork the youngster down the stretch, but I can’t see him avoiding “Dynamite” over the 12 rounds distance. As soon as Dubois is able to cut the ring off and go to work, it could be lights out. Dubois KO-6