Daniel Dubois takes aim at Kyotaro Fujimoto: ‘I’m gonna go in there, as I always do, to seek and destroy’
When unbeaten British heavyweight star Daniel Dubois entered the ring at the famous Royal Albert Hall in September his opponent, Ebenezer Tetteh, looked like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. The 31-year-old Ghanaian refused to make eye contact and his body language oozed reluctance. Tetteh was a first-round knockout victim waiting to happen.
The opening bell rang and 130 seconds later Dubois had added the vacant Commonwealth title to his British heavyweight championship in brutal fashion.
“I can’t say too much, it was bang, bang – all over,” said Dubois in a recent interview with The Ring. “You don’t get paid overtime, so I was in and out quick and I look to do that in every fight. I’m sure the boxing world is watching, so I need to make every performance count. I’m just focused on doing my best every time I go out there.”
Dubois, 22, is a man of few words, which in a game that’s loaded with promotional hype and hyperbole is seen as a major negative. However, the colossal Londoner is making this persona work for him because he’s performing when it matters most. Dubois is an exciting and authentic knockout artist whose fists cause mass destruction, and the quiet approach just adds to the intrigue.
“Whoever he hits, he’ll take them out,” said Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren. “And if he doesn’t get you quick, he can go back to boxing. We’ve seen so often with big punchers, suddenly someone doesn’t go over. What do you do? You have to box, and he has the ability to do that. If he catches you, you’re gone. I could make a world title fight for him tomorrow, and if he catches any of the (titleholders), he’ll take them out – there’s no doubt about it.
“He’d only had seven senior (amateur) fights when I signed him, and I said at the time that he’s the most exciting young heavyweight I’d ever seen. That was the case then and that’s the case now. He’s got the power, he can box, and I love it. I love being involved and I love working with him. He’s got a great work ethic, and I honestly think he’s the future of heavyweight boxing.”
I’d mentioned promotional hype, but Warren’s excitement is justified here. Dubois is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and he’s knocked out 12 of his 13 professional opponents inside five rounds. It’s not just Warren who’s convinced, there are many within the trade that view Dubois as a heavyweight champion in waiting.
Next up, however, is Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto at the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday. The 33-year-old has a more than respectable record of 21-1 (13 knockouts), but while he can match Dubois for weight, he’s five inches shorter, and there’s nothing in his resume to suggest that he can spring the upset.
“I’d never heard of a Japanese heavyweight before,” revealed Dubois. “I’m just going to see how it goes because I haven’t really studied him. I’m gonna go in there, as I always do, to seek and destroy.
“To be honest, I don’t really go lookin’ for the knockout. I’ll be lookin’ to box, but if the knockout comes I’ll take it. They call it boxing for a reason and it’s all about timing. I try to remember that, and I work hard to be the best fighter I can possibly be. So far so good.”
Due to his rapid and eye-catching ascent, Dubois is already being mentioned as a possible opponent for world titleholders Deontay Wilder (WBC) and Anthony Joshua (IBF, WBA and WBO). With his fierce reputation and promotional backing, a heavyweight title bout against either man would be an enormous event.
“My team take care of that and when they say I’m ready, I’m ready,” said Dubois matter-of-factly. “Right now, it’s one fight at a time and there’s no rush. I’m just concentrating on winning each fight and climbing the ranks. When my time comes, I’ve just got to go for it.
“There’s plenty of challenges out there. I’ve got the British and the Commonwealth, so maybe I go for the European. That’s an option, but there’s lots of different routes. Frank has set the path for me, and I’ve just got to walk the road.”
“Daniel just needs a bit more education,” offered Warren. “This guy (Fujimoto) is perfect in two ways. One, he has a WBA rating, which Daniel, for some reason, doesn’t have. And second, I believe he has a WBO ranking because he’s their Asian Pacific titleholder.
“Joshua has mandatories, (Tyson) Fury fights Wilder in February and they’re likely to fight again at the end of the year. All the titles are tied up, so I want my man to be working. I want him to be gaining experience, so that by next Christmas he’s rated No 1 by one or more of the governing bodies and he’s mandatory challenger. No one will be able to duck him, and we can make a world title fight on a straight-forward purse bid or I’ll make a deal. That’s the long-term plan, we’re just positioning him right now.”
So, will Fujimoto go the way of all flesh?
“I’m not looking to hang about,” said Dubois. “I’m definitely looking to knock this guy out. One, two, maybe three rounds of working behind the jab and the knockout will come.”
Dubois vs. Fujimoto will be broadcast on BT Sport in the U.K. and ESPN+ in the U.S.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing