How Daniel Dubois Can Beat Anthony Joshua And Become Heavyweight World Champion

June 27, 2024
2 weeks
Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois will fight for the IBF heavyweight world title.

The biggest British fight of the year has been confirmed as Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois prepare to do battle for the IBF heavyweight world title on September 21 in London.

That the fight at Wembley Stadium is for the IBF title came after undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk vacated the belt ahead of his rematch with Tyson Fury in December.

Joshua (28-3-0 25 KO) is considered the firm favorite to win the fight and become only the fifth fighter in history – after Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko, and Evander Holyfield – to be a three-time heavyweight world champion.

Yet, Dubois (21-2-0 20 KO) will not be at Wembley Stadium just to make up the numbers and will have serious ambitions of winning a world title on his second attempt.

So what does ‘Dynamite’ need to do to upset the odds, beat AJ, and have the IBF belt wrapped around his waist on September 21?

Dubois Must Trust In His Newfound Self-Belief

One of the biggest accusations levelled at Dubois during his career is that he lacked the necessary heart to become a world champion. He was accused of quitting against British rival Joe Joyce in November 2020 when he took a knee in the 10th round and failed to stand having sustained a fractured eye socket.

Dubois was then criticized for an absence of ruthlessness when he had Usyk troubled in their unified title fight in Poland in August 2023. His powerful punch that sent Usyk to the canvas was deemed a low blow and the Ukrainian was given time to recover, but there was still a small window for Dubois to exploit that he failed to take.

That Dubois is shy and soft-spoken, in a sport defined by its ultra machoism, has not helped change peoples’ minds, although he has certainly done his talking in the ring in his past two fights.

Dubois proved against Jarrell Miller that he has plenty of heart; he rode out some challenging middle rounds before stopping the dangerous American in the 12th. The Londoner later admitted, in the build-up to his bout with Hrgovic, that his win over Miller “brought out something that was trapped in me”.

That newfound self-belief was on full display against the unbeaten Hrgovic on June 1 when Dubois dominated the Croatian on his way to an eighth-round stoppage victory to become the IBF’s interim champion.

Dubois will need to trust in the belief and confidence he has gained from his career-best wins over Miller and Hrgovic when he faces Joshua. He has built up enough experience, both in victory and defeat, to not be overawed by the occasion.

Dubois Needs To Set A High Tempo

On the surface, there aren’t many advantages Dubois holds over Joshua. AJ is the slightly bigger fighter with a four-inch reach advantage. Both fighters possess power, but Joshua is the better finisher. The two-time champion also has the greater experience of massive fight nights inside sold-out stadiums.

It leaves Dubois needing to formulate and execute an effective gameplan, and vital to that strategy will be setting a high tempo and not allowing Joshua to settle into a rhythm.

Joshua may be on a four-fight win streak but none of those opponents ever threatened to push the issue and all implemented safety-first approaches. Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius, and Otto Wallin were all solid but slow opponents who allowed Joshua to find his range and pick his shots.

Then there was the embarrassing mismatch against MMA star, but boxing novice, Francis Ngannou, who was blasted out inside two rounds.

Dubois needs to avoid falling into a similar trap. Fighting AJ from a position of fear will only end one way, and the best way to avoid that is by getting on the front foot, throwing smart combinations, and maintaining a high punch output.

Joshua is a formidable fighter but he does have defensive weaknesses, and Dubois has the power and skill to land shots that could alter the fight.

Exploit Any Joshua Passiveness

Joshua has been deservedly praised for his recent revival, bouncing back from successive defeats to Usyk to win his past four fights, and he’s looked better and more dangerous in each passing bout.

Yet, there has been an obvious trend in AJ’s career. Ever since his epic 11th-round win over Wladamir Klitschko in April 2017, Joshua generally deploys a more conservative approach when the stakes are at their highest.

He was safety-first in his unification points win over Joseph Parker in 2018, and after getting stunned by Andy Ruiz in June 2019, deployed a similarly safe strategy to win back his belts in the rematch.

Facing Franklin in April 2023, aware that nothing short of victory would end his career after the twin losses to Usuk, Joshua again lacked ambition on his way to a points win.

The stakes are once again high for this fight against Dubois, with an opportunity for Joshua to make history by becoming a three-time heavyweight world champion.

If AJ once again takes a more conservative approach, perhaps aware that he can outbox Dubois at range, that will give Dynamite the chance to exploit any passiveness from his opponent and dictate the tempo of the fight.

If Dubois is able to fight Joshua on his own terms, then he will have a great chance of upsetting the odds and becoming a heavyweight world champion.