Daniel Dubois Dreaming Of Crowning Moment Against Anthony Joshua

Daniel Dubois makes the first defence of his IBF heavyweight title wishing that he had won it in the ring.

He fights Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium on September 21, having been elevated to the status of champion after Oleksandr Usyk – previously the undisputed champion – vacated one of his four titles.

It was Dubois’ career-best victory over Filip Hrgovic on June 1 that earned him the IBF’s interim title. It also earned him the highest-profile fight of his career – one against a former champion he admired and once sparred as a teen.

Dubois cut short a holiday in Brazil to return to London for Wednesday’s press conference, having previously learned that he had been awarded his first professional world title.

It was not the crowning moment the 26 year old and his father David had previously dreamed of, but he can secure a similar sensation if he defends it in September, aware that a potential fight with the winner of the rematch between Tyson Fury and Usyk could even follow.

“I would have wanted to win it in the ring and get the crowd involved but here we are,” he said. 

“I wasn't really worried [about Usyk retaining the title]. I'm glad I've got it but I wasn't sweating over it. It’s a formality – if you keep winning you'll get these titles. For me the belts and all that are great but these fights themselves are like world-title fights.

“‘AJ’ doesn't need a belt to be the top draw – it’s all about how you perform in the ring in front of a crowd.

“I have just flown back from Brazil – a 12-hour flight back. I am shattered. It was a holiday – a little break but we were still training.

“It was planned before my last fight so I had to cut it short to get back for this. I saw the news this morning online – it’s all good positive vibes. I will thank Usyk with a rematch.”

Dubois sparred Joshua, 34, when Joshua was still being trained by Rob McCracken at the facilities in Sheffield that belong to Team GB. 

He regardless sees no more significance in what unfolded between them – if he once looked up to Joshua he was confrontational with him on Wednesday – than he did in what happened when he sparred Hrgovic or Nathan Gorman, another opponent he previously stopped.

“People have always mentioned sparring but I don’t because whenever someone mentions sparring about me, they get beaten up,” he said.

“It felt good [being at Team GB]. It felt like we were all one and the same – trying to do the same thing.

“I was there trying to get on the Olympic team and he was already on there pushing on. It was all good up there – sparring with the best and mixing it with them. I have nothing but good memories from my time with Team GB – I was young. Only 17. It was just a good path.

“I could see back then that he was a great champion but every great beginning has an end – and I am here to take the baton and the throne.

“I have to fight the man so sparring is not on my mind. Let’s talk about fighting now, not sparring.

"The spar happened years ago. I can barely remember it.

“Nathan Gorman talked about our sparring sessions and look what happened. 

“My career has been resurrected so I am on the road to redemption. I want everything kept positive and I want to keep these good things going. I believe there is a higher power at work and he is pushing me in the right direction.

“People said that [Joshua would be retired before I reached his level] – he is still making big money and he is still here, so if I have to knock him off the perch I will do it.

“He has been through many wars and that will tell on him. But I am still going to prepare 100 per cent and be ready for a war.” 

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