FRANK WARREN was the first promoter to bring boxing back to the UK and given the amount of shows he’s produced since in this most difficult of climates, it was inevitable that not all main events would deliver. Yet when they haven’t, there has generally been a nod to the bigger picture. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that. Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois, for example, each won knock-overs in the midst of summer in an effort to draw attention to a showdown between the pair in the future.
On November 28, both mismatches will be forgotten when Joyce, 11-0 (10), and Dubois, 15-0 (14), collide in arguably the best-matched fight of the COVID-19 era. Not only that, it’s one of the best-matched fights between unbeaten heavyweight prospects in any era.
Originally scheduled for April at the O2 before the coronavirus pandemic rendered such an event redundant, the showdown will be broadcast live by BT Sport and – the best bit – will not be on pay-per-view. In a week that rival promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed there will be three heavyweight fights on Sky Sports Box Office between now and Christmas, news that Dubois-Joyce will form part of the BT Sport subscription was warmly welcomed by fans.
It’s a huge statement of intent from Warren, BT Sport and above all, the fighters. What we’re left with is a contest that cannot be criticised by anyone – a very rare thing indeed in boxing.
“Everybody had to take a haircut, it’s as simple as that,” Warren told Boxing News when asked how he managed to get the fight over the line minus revenue from a live gate or pay-per-view income. “In a way, it’s not fair on anyone because we’ve all worked so hard to get this made and it’s been a long time in the making.
“Someone will lose their unbeaten record without the payday to fall back on that would have been there [pre-pandemic]. But the fighters were determined to fight. Ultimately, almost everyone in the country is being asked to take less money and boxing is no different.
“It’s a sensational fight.”
The venue is yet to be decided.
“You can put it anywhere,” Warren said. “You could put in my garage and once it’s all lit up correctly, who cares? The fighters will be ready to fight. That’s all that matters – the fight.
“And that’s why the fighters have agreed to it. They want to fight, they both believe they can win. It’s not the end of the line for the loser, either; I look at it like the George Groves and James DeGale fight I promoted in 2011. Both winner and loser went on to win world titles.”
One contest that Warren is adamant won’t happen in 2020 is Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III. As reported on the previous pages, the contest has been on and off for a variety of reasons since Fury thrashed Wilder in their February rematch. Reports in America might be conflicted but Warren insists Fury will not wait any longer for his old rival. The promoter is now looking for another opponent for the WBC heavyweight champion.
“The Wilder fight is dead,” Warren said. “The contract has run out. Contracts can only last so long and you can’t expect Tyson to wait forever [for Wilder].”
Fury is pencilled in to make his return to the UK at the Royal Albert Hall on December 5 on a card also set to feature the light-heavyweight clash between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur.