Russ Anber: Daniel Dubois is being overlooked, his future depends on his performance against Oleksandr Usyk

Daniel Dubois comes to Wroclaw, Poland to face Oleksandr Usyk for the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight world championship tomorrow night. To say he is being underestimated would be a vast understatement. 

The WBA regular belt holder found himself in all sorts of trouble when last in action against Kevin Lerena this past December. He got the win, but went through life and death against the South African former cruiserweight. 

ProBox TV caught up with one of Usyk’s corner men, Russ Anber to discuss the threat, if any, Dubois poses to one of boxing’s biggest stars.

“When Frank [Warren] or Alex [Krassyuk] say something you have to take it with a grain of salt, they are trying to build up their guy, right?” Anber said in response to Alexander Krassyuk’s 2nd round knockout prediction for Usyk. “That is what a good promoter is supposed to do. But, from a training perspective and being a boxing guy I look at him and say ‘this guy is for real’ he’s coming to fight. I think he deserves more credit than he is getting. The fact that Usyk was so dominant and performed so well against [Anthony] Joshua, they see this fight as a blowout. That is not fair, styles makes fights. I think to have made him a huge underdog is wrong. Is Usyk the favourite? Of course he is the favourite, in every sport there is a favourite. Is he a 7/1 underdog? I dunno, that is a bog call. Even if Usyk were to win every round of the fight, I still think every round will be competitive and Usyk will have to work hard to win each round. It is not an easy fight, that is how I feel.”

Dubois is relatively young compared to Usyk and the other elite heavyweight fighters. At just 25 years old the Englishman is 11 years younger than his Ukrainian counterpart, building a record of 19-1 (18 KOs) since turning professional at just 19.

“Yeah, he nearly got knocked out in the first round against Lerena.” Anber explained. “He seems to be hitting full-stride [though]. The only thing is that when you hit full-stride you will come across a guy that is just not like anybody else. That will be the advantage here for Usyk, Dubois has not been able to get a sparring partner that will resemble that, Usyk is a different breed, it is like Loma [Vasyl Lomachenko]. How did you get sparring partner to be like Muhammad Ali, you can’t do that. You know what I mean? I do think Dubois is confident and he is young, he is the best position actually because he has nothing to lose. He’s a huge underdog, he’s not expected to win. All he has got to do is deliver a good performance for himself as a man. 

“I think Daniel’s future depends on the performance of this fight. Not the result, but a performance. He needs to look like he’s fucking world class, he need to look like he is in the fight and that he belongs. That is what he needs to do.”

Like many fights, mind games are explored to disrupt an opponent's momentum in camp. Usyk’s former trainer James Ali Bashir has been drafted in to work alongside Dubois’s lead trainer Don Charles.

“I had David Lemieux since he was nine years old.” Anber added. “When I released him and said ‘I don’t want anything to do with his contract’ almost every opponent after that asked me to work in the corner! And, I turned it down. I’m not going to do that as a vendetta thing, that is not my thing. If I had who I had been working with, lets say Janibek [Alimkhanuly] would have fought Lemieux. I’ve been with Janibek since the start of his career, then I would have worked the corner against him because I am working with my guy. But I would never have had latched on somebody to do something like that. I don’t know what his [Bashir] motivation was to do that.”