Filip Hrgovic questions Daniel Dubois’ mettle and fighting heart ahead of Riyadh heavyweight collision


Filip Hrgovic has questioned the fighting heart of South London heavyweight Daniel Dubois ahead of their scrap in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.

The 26-year-old from Greenwich is coming off the most impressive win of his career after halting previously unbeaten American Jarrell Miller in 10 rounds on December 23 in Riyadh.

And now Hrgovic, who also has a flawless record, is next to test the mettle of Dubois.

The Croatian also fought on the last event in Saudi as he took just 106 seconds to finish Mark de Mori, who lasted less than a round with Bermondsey’s David Haye in 2015.

Hrgovic had an extensive amateur record, winning bronze at the 2016 Summer Olympics and gold at the 2015 European Championships. His 17-0 professional record includes 14 knockouts.

Dubois has quit for both his losses, to Joe Joyce in 2020 and Oleksandr Usyk, then unified world champion but now undisputed, in August 2023.

“I see his big biceps but I don’t see his big balls,” said Hrgovic, when he sat down for a heavyweight roundtable hosted by broadcaster TNT Sports recently. “You don’t fight with biceps – you fight with balls and with heart.

“He has quit two times and it is not good for a fighter to quit – it should not be an option.

Riydah, Saudi Arabia: Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, Heavyweight Contest.
23 December 2023
Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
Daniel Dubois celebrates.

“I feel he has a problem with receiving punches that he doesn’t like to receive and be hit, he is not so good with that. I’m the opposite – I’ve proved I can receive a lot of punches and I have a really good chin.

“I was never stopped in more than 100 amateur fights – and never in sparring. I have that quality to never give up.”

The 31-year-old has also claimed it has been more straightforward for Dubois to recover from defeats due to the backing he has from promoter Queensberry Promotions than it would be for him to suffer a setback.

“He already lost two fights but they built him up again – it is much easier when you are coming from Great Britain,” said Hrgovic. “You lose and then you have two easy fights and you are there again. For me, it is not like that.

“It is harder for me, if I lose. It will be really hard for me to come back.

“I definitely have a will to win and I definitely think I can stop him and I’m the best puncher he ever faced.

“He showed in his last fight that he endured some difficulties and he was fighting well in the late rounds – but Jarrell Miller is not a puncher like I am. He comes forward and is tough but he is not a big puncher – I’m a much better puncher. If I connect and put good pressure then I will stop him, for sure.

“This is really the fight I was looking for. He is a good fighter, he has a good ranking, he has a good name – he is young and hungry.”

The pair have sparred previously.

Asked if that has any relevance, Hrgovic said: “It always means something – sparring is almost like a fight. You go for a win when you spar someone. But it was a long time ago. He definitely has improved and I have improved as well.

Riydah, Saudi Arabia: Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, Heavyweight Contest.
23 December 2023
Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing

“It is a good experience for me but it doesn’t need to mean anything. I think I hold a psychological advantage with what happened in that sparring but we’ll see what is going on, on Saturday.”

The show in Saudi sees rival promoters Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn pitch five of their fighters against each other. Deontay Wilder faces Zhilei Zhang in another all-heavyweight encounter.

Dubois has been with Warren since he turned professional in 2017.

Nineteen of his 20 wins have been inside the distance with only Kevin Johnson going to points.

“Frank has always believed in me – it’s just about me knowing I can do it,” said Dubois. “The Miller fight was a really important one for me – clearing that hurdle.

“Now it is on to the next one. It’s about setting myself goals – every fight I have got to get better. Now I just want to do an even better job.

“I’m ready to fight on Saturday. The talking is done. I’m in the zone and ready to go.

“He’s in my way. He’s talking about sparring in the past but it is nothing to do with that right now – I’ve done all the work and I’m ready to go out there and destroy.

“All fighters will tell you a knockout is perfect but I’m not going to go out there looking for anything.”


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