“It’s the fighting game” and sometimes you just don’t know until it’s too late as it turned out in Joe Joyce’s supreme display to upset Daniel Dubois with a 10th knockout ride and capture the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.
The Juggernaut was a big outsider entering this fight at the majestic Church House in Westminster, steeped in history. But the 35-year-old’s vast experience, despite a late introduction to the sport at around the same age as his 23-year-old nemesis, proved essential: Smart and measured strategy immediately saw Joyce pepper the imposing Dubois d ‘a sudden, and the blur activity immediately stacked an advantage.
Dubois’s corner kick allowed him to dress between rounds like a naughty schoolboy, with veteran coach Martin Bowers shouting, “you’re in the fighting game,” as if hope needs a boost.
Dubois, to his credit, reacted with venom, throwing his own jab to split Joyce’s guard and adding a healthy dose of clubbing rights to force Joyce into a desperate grip at every opportunity.
The shock of Dubois’ own job quickly subsided, however, with Joyce reinvigorated and repelled by the relief that he could absorb the punishment, which saw him return to his job simply but busy.
Even though Dubois managed in a close fight, the damage to his face suggested he was losing momentum, with a swollen left eye forcing crucial hesitation with each exchange.
Joyce began to turn to his right as the fight entered the second half, another shrewd maneuver, with the Olympic silver medalist moving away from Dubois’ dangerous right to nullify his power.
Joyce can boast of an incredible engine, Carl Frampton calling him the most boxing fighter, leaving him well positioned to weather a late storm from his younger opponent. But another blow, perfectly delivered to the corner of Dubois’ eye, sent shockwaves through his massive body.
It dawned on Dubois that he just couldn’t persevere any longer, blazing and falling with a thud to his knee before being counted to spark some wild Joyce celebrations.
Cruel charges of resignation will immediately spread, although Dubois’ decision may have saved his career, with many years to come.
Meanwhile, Joyce, after his signature capoeira to celebrate, continues his way, a calculated bet has seen him catapult into the world title race.
Should Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury prove out of reach, the pursuit of Oleksandr Usyk, a formidable foe of his illustrious amateur career, will begin.
It’s the fighting game and Joyce can revel in navigating the dangers of the sport in a hurry.
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