It's the morning after Daniel Dubois knocked out fringe contender Razvan Cojanu at The Royal Albert Hall in London. He did so in quite spectacular fashion I must add. But is Dubois as good as he looked last night?
The win brings Dubois record to (10-0-0 9 Kos). Only proven warhorse Kevin Johnson managing to hear the final bell after 10 rounds with the resident of Greenwich in South London.
To all intents and purposes, Daniel Dubois has done everything asked of him to date. He has looked an exciting addition to the heavyweight ranks and provided knockout action to ringside and TV audiences alike. Promoter Frank Warren, who is an old hand in bringing along these type of fighters knows that the right sparring along with the right opponents at the right time can get his client into a position where he can make decent money and perhaps, reach the top echelons of his weight division.
If Dubois is as good as he looked last night then Warren can hardly allow him to go backwards and fight lower level opposition again. The plan is to fight another unbeaten Brit, Nathan Gorman later this year. Gorman outpointed Cojanu in December 2018 to win the WBC International Title by unanimous decision. With 11 KOs in 15 wins, Gorman vs Dubois could give us answers to where Dubois stands in heavyweight boxing today.
In comparison, Anthony Joshua fought a badly washed-up Michael Sprott in his 10th professional outing and took on Kevin Johnson in his 13th bout (Won KO round 2). Now, Joshua had won Olympic gold and was given the big fanfare on turning pro whereas Dubois made headlines simply because of his spectacular wins. However, 3 fights after beating Johnson, Joshua won the IBF title from Charles Martin.
So, the question that I would like to address is: Could Daniel Dubois challenge for a world heavyweight title in 6 fights from now?
If he beats Gorman, then Dubois is going to be around the world top 15, maybe even top 10 with the sanctioning bodies. At this point, the correct matchmaking is essential. Warren will not put Dubois in with the 2nd level contenders like Povetkin, Pulev, Parker etc. After 11 pro fights that would be too risky. But he will have to be looking at matching him with guys like Carlos Takem, Eric Molina, Charles Martin or Artur Szpitka soon enough, and they will all carry their risks too.
Personally, I think Warren will play it safe for a while longer. Have a look at the heavyweights on BoxRec and you can find guys like Joshua Tufte (19,2,0) from North Carolina, who lost to unbeaten prospect Adam Kownacki in his last outing by 2nd round TKO. Safe as houses but a record that Warren can sell to the media and fans alike. 2 or 3 of these sort of opponents and then onto someone with a proven track record at world level.
No matter how much self believe a fighter has or has not, no-one can predict with any level of certainty how a young fighter is going to cope when he faces his first truly world-class opponent. I always remember Frank Bruno winning 9.5 rounds against James "Bonecrusher" Smith in a 10 rounder at Wembley Arena in 1984. He lost by KO because he lacked the experience to deal with the situation. He had the fight won. He didn't expect Smith to come back in the last round, but he did. Smith, later went on to win the WBA title and take Mike Tyson the distance in a unification bout.
A lesson for all young contenders.