2019 had the potential to be one of the best years of heavyweight boxing in recent memory but any hope of seeing Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Dillian Whyte mixing it up in the ring with each other quickly evaporated and now the sport’s marquee division looks as fractured as ever.
Thankfully, the next wave of British heavyweight talent is defying tradition and on July 13, two of the hottest properties from these shores go head-to-head at the 02 Arena with the British title on the line.
Daniel Dubois, 21, and Nathan Gorman, 23, are both unbeaten, untested and ready to risk it all this weekend and both should be applauded for it. The fight was ordered by the British Board of Control, and Frank Warren, who promotes both, claims he never wanted this bout between two of his best charges so soon and it was the fighters themselves that pushed for it.
The two fighters could very easily have circled each other in a ‘will they or won’t they?’ for years to come, and either never meet or only meet when any hunger for the fight from fans is long gone. And who could blame them? It’s what the majority of other heavyweights seem intent on doing these days.
A win for either has the potential to propel either of the big men on a path to great things in the division and a shot at world honours will likely not be far behind. Defeat, on the other hand, could prove disastrous - boxing is a fickle sport at the best of times, and such a high profile loss so early on in a fighter’s career would send the loser straight back to the drawing board.
It was a risk that paid off for Anthony Joshua in 2015 when he put his unbeaten record on the line against the similarly unbeaten Dillian Whyte. Joshua won, went on to win the IBF title in his next fight and picked up the IBO, WBO and WBA belts in subsequent bouts, whilst Whyte, although a bonafide world title contender now, has waited the best part of 600 days for a shot at the WBC crown.
The already exciting bout has been boosted by a genuine animosity between the two former Team GB teammates, and although we’re unlikely to see any boorish behaviour in the build-up to this fight - unlike some of the more veteran fighters on the heavyweight scene, the two youngsters seem more than happy to settle their differences in the ring rather than in a press conference brawl better suited for the circus.
Nevertheless, the fight talk is well underway: “We were on the GB squad for two years together and we did 200 or 300 rounds sparring and I don’t think I lost one,” claimed the Ricky Hatton-trained Gorman.
“He thinks I’m his easiest opponent so far, but I bring a lot more than all the other opponents he has fought.”
Dubois and Gorman have both looked impressive in the early stages of their respective careers and between them bring in a record of 27 fights, 27 wins and 21 knockouts. In fact, veteran American gatekeeper Kevin Johnson is the only man to fight both and hear the final bell.
The term ‘50/50’ fight has become something of an overused boxing cliche, but Dubois v Gorman actually fits that bill. Regardless of who wins at the weekend, it’s a commendable and brave move for both fighters - the rest of the division should take note.