BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Daniel Dubois is happy to embrace the underdog tag ahead of next months’s challenge to unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Ukrainian Usyk puts his IBF, WBA and WBO world titles on the line against the South Londoner in Poland on August 26.
Southpaw Usyk, 36, had a stellar amateur career and is 20-0 since moving into the paid ranks. Usyk was undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up a division after stopping Scouser Tony Bellew in 2018.
Dubois gets his shot at Usyk due to the fact he is WBA world champion – with his opponent holding the governing body’s ‘super’ title. The Greenwich puncher has been carefully matched throughout his career, even more so since quitting against Joe Joyce in November 2020 with a badly damaged left eye.
Usyk won his collection of heavyweight belts by outpointing Anthony Joshua in 2021 and then won their rematch on a split decision.
Usyk has wanted to face WBC champion Tyson Fury with all the major belts on the line but when that fell through he has been forced to press ahead with his mandatory commitments.
The stadium staging Usyk-Dubois in Wroclaw has a capacity of 45,000.
Dubois, 25, has never attracted a huge following and is unlikely to have much support there on the evening.
“They can’t get in the ring and fight for him,” Dubois told iFL TV, when asked about it being a hostile setting. “I’ve been in Poland as an amateur – I’ve travelled all over Europe. A ring is a ring to me. It’s about going to wherever you have got to go to and throw down.”
Dubois’ father David was instrumental in his son ditching Shane McGuigan and being trained now by Don Charles, whose most notable fighter is Dereck Chisora.
“It didn’t work out with Shane,” said the world title challenger. “I don’t want to go into all that, it is behind me now. I’m with Don and he is teaching me new tricks.
“He has trained heavyweights. You should watch how Chisora did with Usyk. I take pointers from that. He is a great champion but I’m ready for him – everything with a beginning has an end.”
There has been a suggestion that Dubois needs to make it a war with Usyk and pile on the pressure.
Charles said: “People say: ‘Put it on him’. How? It’s easier said than done. It has to be done technically. It’s like a plane that takes off, there is a run-up to that – you can’t just take off.”
Usyk’s long-standing promoter Alex Krassyuk, who won the purse bid to stage the fight, is adamant his charge will not take Dubois lightly.
“If he loses to Oleksandr then he is 25 and he loses to the unified champ who beat AJ twice and the guy Fury is running from,” said Krassyuk.
“Some are saying this is an easy walk for Oleksandr – I completely disagree.
“Daniel Dubois didn’t look really impressive in his last fight, going down three times after injuring his knee, but he completely changed the tide of it and knocked the guy out.
“He used his teeth to take the victory from his opponent’s hands.”
Lewisham’s Dan Azeez outpointed Khalid Graidia in Italy on Saturday.
The 33-year-old European light-heavyweight champion is set to face Croydon’s Joshua Buatsi later in the year and used the eight-rounder as a tune up.
Azeez improved his perfect record to 20-0.
PICTURES: QUEENSBERRY PROMOTIONS AND BOXXER
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