A fight night that spans the ages! Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce and Mike Tyson v Roy Jones Jr on Saturday are two very different duels but will both be utterly compelling
- Saturday will see the most mouth-watering heavyweight fight for decades
- Daniel Dubois faces off with silver Olympian Joe Joyce in Westminster, London
- Meanwhile in LA, Mike Tyson will make an astonishing return after 15 years
- The boxing legend, 54, will take on fellow legend Roy Jones Jr in exhibition fight
It is 40 years to the week since Frank Warren promoted his first officially sanctioned boxing show and he celebrates on Saturday by putting on the most mouth-watering British heavyweight title fight for decades.
It is 30 years since Mike Tyson suffered the upset of the century at the unexpected fists of James ‘Buster’ Douglas in the unlikely setting of Tokyo. On Saturday he makes an astounding return in Los Angeles from a 15-year retirement.
In London Daniel Dubois, the lad most likely to be the next world heavyweight champion, collides with silver Olympian Joe Joyce in the cloisters of Westminster’s Church House. In the hallowed shadow of the Abbey itself.
Saturday will see one of the most mouth-watering fights for decades as Daniel Dubois (L) takes on Joe Joyce (R) in London – 40 years since Frank Warren (C) put on his first boxing show
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr make their divisive return to the boxing ring on November 28
For the winner, a title shot against Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua in the not too distant future.
That venue is a far cry from the hotel in Bloomsbury where, in the foggy winter of 1980, a couple of long-forgotten American heavyweights plodded to a financial disaster for their English paymaster.
‘I lost my shirt,’ says Warren. Although the British Boxing Board of Control had finally allowed him to come in from the cold of unlicensed promoting, they did not permit live televising from which he mistakenly expected to cover his costs.
Without the contribution of BT Sport, Dynamite Daniel and Juggernaut Joe would not be challenging each other for a subsequent tilt at riches and glory.
Daniel Dubois, likely to become next heavyweight champion, takes on Joe Joyce in London
Another irony is not lost on Warren. ‘There weren’t many spectators in the Bloomsbury Centre,’ he recalls. ‘Now we’re behind closed doors because of Covid-19 and there won’t be any fans. So that seems about right for my anniversary.’
Much of Saturday’s trans-Atlantic history-making comes in multiples of boxing’s 10 count. It is 20 years since Warren — shortly after being shot in an east London street, apparently by an old pro — brawled with Tyson in a Glasgow hotel. That was over Iron Mike’s unpaid £2million bill for an item of jewellery, prior to knocking out Lou Savarese in no time.
Tyson was 20 when he became the youngest of all world heavyweight champions by flattening Trevor Berbick in the Las Vegas Hilton. Now, in the year of the pandemic, Tyson reappears aged 54 against 51-year-old fellow legend Roy Jones Jnr in what is billed as ‘an exhibition’. Count to 10 before believing that one.
Olympic silver medalist Joe Joyce will fight Warren at Westminster’s Church House
And the California State Athletic Commission have agreed at the last minute that there will be a judges’ decision in favour of one of these senior citizens if it does go the eight scheduled rounds, each reduced to two minutes’ duration in medical deference to their, shall we say, maturity. So the WBC’s contrived Frontline Battle belt will be strapped around one of them in the Staples Center.
Over here, hard by the seat of British Government, each of Dubois and Joyce will be striving to prevent the other surviving the customary championship distance of 12 three-minute rounds. It promises to be a battle worthy of not only the British, but also the Commonwealth and European titles.
Both are undefeated. Both punch like a kick from a mule — Dubois perhaps more so. Both can box as well as slug, Joyce may be the more accomplished by virtue of his greater wealth of amateur experience. That factor compels two Brits who have worn the world heavyweight crown to warn against discounting Joyce, despite Dubois being odds-on with the bookies.
The 54-year-old takes on fellow great Jones Jnr, 51, in a controversial bout in Los Angeles
Lennox Lewis, still the last undisputed lord of the heavyweight ring, says: ‘Joe’s amateur grounding could be crucial, even though Daniel does have the power to take him out if he lands cleanly.’
David Haye predicts: ‘The longer it goes the more difficult it becomes for Daniel and if that happens, I’m going for Joe.’
On this they agree: ‘It’s 50-50 and it will come down to who wants it most.’
Each of the combatants speak to his own motivation. Joyce, the fine arts graduate who was deprived of Olympic gold by Tony Yoka’s controversial decision in the final of Rio 2016, says: ‘I delayed turning pro to pursue that dream and I will not be robbed now of my world title ambition.’
Dubois, who permits himself not a single distraction, says: ‘I will not allow him to stand in the way of my destiny. I am obsessed with dominating world boxing, the way Mike Tyson did.’
There is an age discrepancy here, also, although not as wide. Dubois is only 23, Joyce a late-starting professional at 35.
Iron Mike makes his return to the ring for the first time since retiring from the sport in 2005
Other unusual rules over in La La Land — 12-ounce pillows for gloves, extra time to recover from knockdowns, a draw if one or other is cut — confirm this as a night across the ages.
Dubois and Tyson are the betting favourites. Seems about right to me, as well as to Warren. Maybe by knockouts.
Dubois v Joyce will be televised live on BT Sport on Saturday followed by Tyson v Jones Jnr on BT Sport Box Office.