If you were a boxer with a December fight date, your Christmas wish list would likely read something similar to Daniel Dubois’ contest tomorrow night: headline a venue, enjoy a payday on the eve of Christmas, fight just prior to Christmas day so that any yuletide indulgence is comparatively guilt free, and fight someone low risk, so that the physical inconveniences that a fight can begat are minimised, or otherwise altogether avoided.
Daniel will headline the Copper Box Arena tomorrow evening against Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1), an opponent no one is considering a serious threat, and in a fight where the only intrigue appears to be in which of the first three rounds it will end. Given that Dubois’ previous four fights this calendar year have lasted a total of 12 rounds - Razvan Cojanu (17-6), round 2; Richard Lartey (14-2), round 4; Nathan Gorman (16-1), round 5; and Ebenezer Tetteh (19-1), round 1 - with all of those fights arguably against opponents of a calibre beyond Fujimoto, hearing the bell for the second round would be considered an unanticipated surprise in this one.
Frank Warren has previously iterated that due to Daniel’s negligible amateur career (2-3), combined with his 22-year-old juvenescence, there is no desire or intention to either yield to the excited impulsivity of public clamour and rush him into over-matched fights, or attempt to prematurely force him into a misleadingly elevated position within the rankings tables of the various sanctioning bodies.
That being said, if Dubois wins on Saturday night, he will move into the number 3 position in the WBO’s ranking table behind only Oleksandr Usyk (17-0) and Joseph Parker (26-2). 2020 is therefore a year where we should no longer be referring to Dubois as a prospect – and seeing him oppose the likes of Fujimoto – but witness him bridge the gap from that categorisation to the one of ‘contender’. Expected to add the WBC Silver to the WBO International title he already holds on Saturday should aid in negotiations for expected, larger fights and Warren is now beginning to outline the suggested route through which he intends to advance Daniel. Desired future opponents including the likes of David Allen (17-5-2), David Price (25-7), Derek Chisora (32-9) and Dillian Whyte (27-1).
Kyotaro Fujimoto has also name-dropped the opponents he wishes to engage in post-victory, big fights next year: Fury, Joshua and Wilder. Given Fury’s recent calibre of opponent, he may actually have a chance of making that fight…but in all seriousness, the bathetic nature of Fujimoto’s proclamations betray the inconceivability of his victory this weekend. Yes, he has been a world champion kickboxer; yes, he has held the Japanese and WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight titles; and, yes, he has only been stopped once in 22 professional boxing matches. But it will be a brave man and one dependent on an incredible performance, that does not see that figure rise to two in 23 by Sunday.