BOXING is often all about timing. The timing of punches, the timing of fights. Get it wrong and you’re liable to fall short, either in terms of a shot thrown or a fight lost. Get it right, however, and expert timing can pay dividends. In the case of heavyweight prospects Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman, there is apparently no time like the present. On July 13 at the O2 Arena, the two will meet for the British heavyweight title, way ahead of schedule, and hope they have got their timing right.
Twenty-one-year-old Dubois is unbeaten in 11 fights, winning 10 of them inside the distance, while Gorman, 22, has avoided defeat in his first 16, stopping 11 of his opponents. Though relatively untested, they are talented, exciting and have been earmarked as two of the top heavyweight talents in the country. Better yet, they are ambitious, competitive and feel no way about testing their credentials against each other.
For Gorman, the lesser known of the two, this British title shot offers the chance to put his name up in lights and emerge as the potential jewel in the BT Sport heavyweight crown.
“He’s [Dubois] been the golden goose since day one and had everything his way,” he said. “But the fight’s here now. Once I beat him, I’m the number one.
“He hasn’t had it tough at all. He reckons I’m going to be his easiest fight to date. He’s lying to himself. I’m not going to be his easiest fight. It’s like me saying he’d be my easiest fight to date. That’s just bulls**t. We’re both hungry, competitive fighters who have the desire to win.”
The fight is redolent of other supposedly premature battles between promising British fighters. George Groves and James DeGale, for instance, shared a ring as pros earlier than many expected when meeting in 2011, and Nigel Benn and Michael Watson did something similar all the way back in 1989.
It’s a rarity, and probably won’t become a tradition, but fights like Dubois-Gorman can and should happen from time to time. After all, a loss for either will not set them back too far, much less spell the end. Young and talented enough to return, there’s more to be gained from taking a fight like this, whether it results in victory or defeat, than from strolling through a succession of walkover jobs against overmatched imports. Dubois and Gorman get this and so too does their promoter, Frank Warren, a man who has invested in both and appears to have belief in both.
More than that, he has a belief that Dubois and Gorman should meet now, while the goods are still warm, and that no amount of cooling down will benefit either man.
“It makes for an exciting British showdown and a good clash of styles,” said Gorman. “He’s the power-puncher and I’m the boxer with the sharp combinations. As a fan, if I was watching it, I’d be licking my lips at this one.
“I know he’s going to come at me like a bull in a china shop, which I want him to do because I’m going to do the same. I’m going to meet him in the middle and we’re going to throw bombs.
“This fight is, in my opinion, 70/30 in my favour. The only chance he has of beating me is if I switch off. I have every other area covered.”
The good thing about fights such as this one is that both fighters, being young and undefeated, are usually fuelled by a mutual air of invincibility and the same ambition. For as confident as Gorman sounds, Dubois is right there with him.
“I am in this business to make a name for myself and win whatever titles they throw at me,” he said. “These are guys I’ve got to come through and I will do it. I am pretty coldblooded, so this is just me. This is the hurt business and I enjoy it.
“At the moment I am kind of relaxed about it all and have an idea in my head about how the fight is going to go down. In fact, I am sure about it.
“Every fight excites me; this one maybe so a little bit more. I am feeling really good and I feel confident for this one. I am ready to get it on.”
At a time when the world’s top heavyweights seem to be actively avoiding one another to protect what’s theirs, the meeting of Dubois and Gorman is the most welcome of anomalies. It’s refreshing, it’s well-timed, and the pair of them, two prospects with plenty to protect and learn, are showing others how it should be done.