In an age of big heavyweight battles that have reinvigorated the division, the clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce stands out as one of the most intriguing. The two undefeated British heavyweights will fight with the British, Commonwealth, European, WBO International and WBC silver titles on the line. More importantly, the winner will be placed on the fringes of the world title picture. The fight goes down from Church House in London on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
Dubois is 15-0 with 14 knockouts so far in his career while Joyce's pro record sits at 11-0 with 10 knockouts. But Joyce is 35 years old to Dubois' 23. That sets the fight up as a very "here and now" situation for Joyce, who has shown solid talent while coming to the sport later than most men who rise to the ranks of title contenders. By contrast, Dubois took that well-worn path, boxing in his youth and rising up the ranks before choosing to turn professional in 2017 rather than wait around to take a spot on the Olympic team.
The decision to turn pro has been a good one for Dubois, as he has become one of the top prospects in the heavyweight division, showing off blistering power and the kind of physical skills that separate elite heavyweights from plodding power punchers. The 6-foot-5 Dubois will be at something of a size disadvantage when he steps in against 6-foot-6 Joyce. It appears someone's height listing is off by an inch or two after seeing the two at the official weigh-in. Joyce looked to have a two-to-three inch advantage in height and was just shy of 259 pounds to Dubois' 244.
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Joyce can fight in ways that play into his size. He's not particularly quick with his footwork or his punches, but he's shown solid durability and has been able to get his punches through, even if they're lacking in speed. They key to Joyce's offense may come in a steady work-rate and an 80-inch reach. His camp believes that they can put pressure on Dubois unlike the younger man has seen in his professional career.
That said, Joyce will enter the fight without head trainer Ismael Salas, who failed a COVID-19 test and will be forced to miss the fight while he quarantines. Changes to a fighter's corner, especially in the final days before a fight, can lead to some troubles during the bout.
Dubois vs. Joyce card, odds
Daniel Dubois -340
Joe Joyce +270
Guido Nicolas Pitto
Mohammad Ali Bayat Farid
This is a legitimately compelling heavyweight bout and one where either man could score the victory. Joyce "needs" the win more than Dubois, but that urgency doesn't likely change how he would approach the fight anyway as he's not a particularly dynamic fighter. He is just simply the guy he is: big, lumbering, and effective with his workrate and solid power. Dubois is the more dynamic athlete and those skills give him the edge coming into the fight. He could be tested in new and interesting ways, which would be good for his development, but I believe Dubois' skills win the day as they open up opportunities for his impressive power to shine. Pick: Dubois via TKO5