Seven days before Matchroom Boxing's big summer PPV bill featuring Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas, Frank Warren's eagerly-awaited "Heavy Duty" bill, staged at the O2 Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula produced some interesting results, but failed to produce real "fireworks".
Daniel Dubois went into the main event as the betting favourite. He had shown real punching power in his 11 win record and it was that ability to badly hurt opponents at any moment that gave him a huge advantage over the brave but less physically gifted Nathan Gorman.
To produce a real barn-burner, you need two equally matched opponents, and while Gorman showed real grit and determination, he lost all 5 rounds for me and suffered 2 knockdowns, the last of which ended proceedings when referee Victor Loughlin counted him out even though he was back on his feet. I have no doubt that Nathan would have continued if allowed, but the right hand to the top of his head that floored him took away his legs and left him vulnerable to Dubois's heavy artillery.
During the 5 rounds that the fight lasted, Gorman landed some great shots that might have made lesser heavyweights think twice before ploughing forward, but Dubois has the chin to go along with the physical strength and power he possesses.
The fight plan that Gorman was mentored in by two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton would have worked if he could have carried it out to the letter. It called for Nathan to not back-up but to come under, slip or block Dubois jab and right hand and to pivot to the sides and land his own hooks and uppercuts before returning to a safe distance behind the jab.
Instead, Gorman was backed up by Dubois jab and then punished by a heavy right hand and left hook. Not at any point did Nathan get to boss the fight. It's back to the drawing board for the Nantwich man. At this level, you have to at least find a part of your game that your opponent fears and he didn't manage that against Dubois.
The fight was entertaining but at no point did I think that Gorman was likely to win. Nathan has enough ability to be involved in the domestic and possibly European title scene but it will need a steep learning curve to progress to world title level.
Joe Joyce picked up the sort of professional experience that he and his trainer Adam Booth have been crying out for when he went the distance for the first time against crafty American Bryant Jennings who showed the toughness and skills that life in Philadelphia's gyms builds. Although Joyce was a clear winner, he was made to realise early on that he had to keep the same level of concentration and effort up all through the 12 rounds.
He was hurt in the 1st round by a body shot that made him immediately hold his left elbow close to his ribcage, he did this for the rest of the fight every time that Jennings got in close enough to target the area.
The subtleties of Joyce's style may not be seen by many, but he is going to be a tough nut to crack after this experience. He may look ponderous to some and an arm puncher to others, but he uses his advantages in size like no others in the division at present. He is so good at it that he neutralises his opponent's advantage in speed and mobility.
The rhetoric from Team Joyce in the early part of his career was that his long amateur career and the invaluable experience of fighting in the World Series of Boxing where the bouts are over 5 rounds and the competitors do not wear head guards or vests would give him a huge jump up the professional ladder, and I think that was the case, but not now, this is a totally different level where being competitive for 5 rounds has very little use.
Jennings while not believing he had won, stated after the fight that he deserved a closer points decision, but he has to understand that Joyce forced the fight and out-landed him in most rounds. He was deducted a point for a low blow in the 10th round which seemed harsh at the time, but seconds after the action resumed he landed a clearly low left hook that reiterated referee Steve Gray's point.
I scored the fight 117-111 to Joyce but understand that Jennings felt he landed enough fast jabs and left hooks to earn a better share of the points. The Philadelphian has enough left to test and possibly beat the young bucks in the division and perhaps Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn should pay the man some decent money to come back and face Dubois or the winner of David Price and Dave Allen. If Dubois can't bang Jennings out early and gets taken into the later rounds it will give a few answers to the questions the Greenwich man still needs to answer. The winner of Price vs Allen would start a big underdog.
Joyce is right on the heels of Dillian Whyte, Rivas, Povetkin, Parker, and Pulev, but weather Frank Warren can get him a fight with one of these is another matter. There was talk of a WBA regular title fight with Manuel Charr, but anyone outside the world top 10 would be a step backwards and that isn't an option for the Putney man at 33 years of age and a 10 fight ledger.
All in all, Frank Warren should be happy with the "Heavy Duty" show he put on and UK boxing fans will be waiting for his next big offering.