Daniel Dubois became the third-youngest heavyweight champion of all-time after an emphatic fifth-round knockout over fellow unbeaten compatriot Nathan Gorman defiantly silenced critics at London’s 02 Arena.
There was plenty of buzz ahead of this fight, between two unbeaten British heavyweights who genuinely didn’t like one another.
A win would propel the victor to new heights, while the loser’s immediate future would be questioned. Many believed it was Gorman’s to lose – especially after his persistent bold remarks during their media obligations.
But as the saying goes, empty vessels make the loudest noise. Dubois, generally reserved and keen to let his boxing do the talking, responded in the best possible way on fight night to expose a heavier opponent – one who landed shots of his own but struggled to answer persistent jabs which continued to take their toll before ending the bout after a third-round knockdown and fifth-round stoppage.
Dubois, coming off knockout wins over Razvan Cojanu and Richard Lartey back in March and April, had his fair share of doubters.
Unfairly branded a hype job by boxing critics after being billed as one of the world’s top prospects – given his impressive physique, athleticism and punching power, all while still being just 21-years-old.
Gorman, two years older and with more boxing experience was keen to silence the hype in its tracks.
The pair had history, after reportedly clocking hundreds of rounds sparring while they were battling at national level for an Olympic berth in the past.
An intriguing first round sets the tone
For someone billed as the more polished article, Gorman certainly wasn’t showing it.
Firstly, his movement wasn’t sharp enough to justify allowing Dubois to be the aggressor from the first bell. While counter-punching and defence could prove pivotal to a points victory, it was quickly apparent this wouldn’t last the full twelve rounds.
Dubois absorbed his best shots and kept coming forward, almost like a relentless juggernaut stalking its prey.
Largely dominating rounds, Daniel’s punch output was good but he was importantly calculated with his shots too, which caught Gorman in an uncomfortable position. He was often clinching near the ropes, trying too hard to adopt a Tyson Fury-like style which wouldn’t last in a scrap such as this one.
Dubois stuns struggling Gorman
It didn’t help to have Fury and Ricky Hatton in the 23-year-old’s corner, not least because he looked stunned by just how good Dubois was.
He was bleeding deep into the second round near his left eyebrow after another Dubois right hand connected, to which he had no answer.
In the following round, he was dropped after a flurry of shots left him unsteady and in grave danger as the referee stood over him.
One of the BT Sport commentators stressed the knockdown didn’t hurt him, that it was more to do with his legs and poor movement. That notion was quickly shot down.
Gorman survived by throwing wildly and forced Daniel to be cautious, rather than rushing for a knockout victory. It worked in the short-term, but he was still losing rounds and not improving as time wore on.
Late in the fifth, it was all over. Again the right hand proved Gorman’s kryptonite and despite getting to his feet, he narrowly missed beating Victor Loughlin’s count to confirm a comprehensive defeat.
Dubois, who turns 22 in September, has plenty of upside but stressed his eagerness to keep improving and wasn’t satisfied even after an impressive win like this.
That just shows how much more he can develop, while promoter Frank Warren revealed they have plans for him to return at some stage in September.
His boxing IQ and general skills are overlooked because of the way he’s built and finally he’ll get the respect he deserves. After all, you can only beat whoever is infront of you.
The jury is still out on Gorman, who talked a good game but was never able to deliver when it mattered most. This defeat will be tough to take, not least after a gruelling training camp away from home comforts in London – but he’ll learn from it and is expected to bounce back in future. Just where his ceiling sits at heavyweight remains to be seen, though changes must be made.
Joe Joyce, fresh off a points victory elsewhere on this card, could be next for Dubois. Expectations will rise and pressure to test him against tougher opponents will intensify, but his team cannot afford to push him too quickly: no matter how good he is.