It’s been 40 years to the week since Frank Warren promoted his first officially sanctioned boxing show and he’ll be celebrating this on Saturday by waging the most delectable British heavyweight title fight in decades.
It’s been 30 years since Mike Tyson suffered the shock of the century at the unexpected fists of James ‘Buster’ Douglas in the unlikely setting of Tokyo. On Saturday, he makes an astonishing return to Los Angeles from a 15-year retirement.
In London, Daniel Dubois, the boy likely to be the next heavyweight world champion, collides with silver Olympian Joe Joyce in the cloisters of Westminster’s Church House. In the sacred shadow of the abbey itself.
Saturday will be one of the most delectable fights in decades as Daniel Dubois (L) takes on Joe Joyce (R) in London – 40 years since Frank Warren (C) gave his first boxing show
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. return to the boxing ring on November 28
For the winner, a title shot against Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua in the not too distant future.
That location is a long way from the Bloomsbury hotel, where in the misty winter of 1980 a few long-forgotten American heavyweights toiled for a financial disaster for their English paymaster.
“I lost my shirt,” Warren says. While the British Boxing Board of Control had finally allowed him to come in from the cold of unlicensed advertising, it didn’t allow live broadcast what he falsely expected to cover his costs.
Without BT Sport’s contribution, Dynamite Daniel and Juggernaut Joe wouldn’t challenge each other for another attempt at riches and glory.
Daniel Dubois, who is likely to be the next heavyweight champion, will take on Joe Joyce in London
Another irony is not lost on Warren. “There weren’t many spectators at the Bloomsbury Center,” he recalls. ‘Now we are behind closed doors because of Covid-19 and there will be no fans. So that seems good for my wedding day. ‘
Much of Saturday’s transatlantic history comes in multiples of boxing’s 10 counts. It has been twenty years since Warren – shortly after he was shot on a street in East London, apparently by a longtime pro – had a falling out with Tyson in a Glasgow hotel. That was more than Iron Mike’s unpaid £ 2 million bill for a piece of jewelry, before Lou Savarese was knocked out in no time.
Tyson was 20 when he became the youngest of all heavyweight world champions by crushing Trevor Berbick at the Las Vegas Hilton. Now in the year of the pandemic, at the age of 54, Tyson reappears against 51-year-old fellow legend Roy Jones Jnr in what is billed as ‘an exhibit’. Count to 10 before you believe it.
Olympic silver medalist Joe Joyce will fight Warren at Westminster’s Church House
And the California State Athletic Commission agreed at the last minute that there will be a judge’s decision in favor of one of these seniors if it goes through the eight scheduled rounds, each cut to two minutes in medical deference to their, shall we say, adulthood. So the WBC’s contrived Frontline Battle belt will be strapped to one of them at the Staples Center.
Here, hard at the seat of the British government, both Dubois and Joyce will strive to prevent the other from surviving the usual three-minute championship distance of 12 rounds. It promises to be a battle worthy of not only the British, but the titles of the Commonwealth and Europe.
Both are unbeaten. Both hit like a mule’s kick – Dubois maybe more so. Both can box and slugs, Joyce is arguably the most skilled thanks to his greater wealth of amateur experience. That factor is forcing two Brits who have worn the world heavyweight crown to warn against rejecting Joyce, despite Dubois having a high chance on the bookies.
The 54-year-old takes on fellow great Jones Jnr, 51, in a controversial fight in Los Angeles
Lennox Lewis, still the last undisputed lord of the heavyweight ring, says, “Joe’s amateur grounding can be crucial, even if Daniel has the strength to take him out if he lands cleanly.”
David Haye predicts, “The longer it takes, the harder it gets for Daniel and when that happens I’ll go for Joe.”
They agree: “It’s 50-50 and it comes down to who wants it the most.”
Each of the fighters speaks to his own motivation. Joyce, the fine arts graduate who was robbed of Olympic gold by Tony Yoka’s controversial decision in the Rio 2016 final, says: “ I’ve been waiting to become a pro to pursue that dream and I won’t be robbed now of my ambition for the world title. ‘
Dubois, not allowing himself any distractions, says, “I will not allow him to stand in the way of my fate. I am obsessed with dominating world boxing, like Mike Tyson did. ‘
There is also an age difference here, although not that great. Dubois is only 23, Joyce a last-starting professional at 35.
Iron Mike is returning to the ring for the first time since his retirement from the sport in 2005
Other unusual rules in La La Land – 12-ounce cushions for gloves, extra time to recover from knockdowns, a tie if one or the other is cut – attest to this as a night through the ages.
Dubois and Tyson are the favorites for betting. Sounds good to me, just as good as Warren. Maybe by knockouts.
Dubois v Joyce will be broadcast live on BT Sport on Saturday, followed by Tyson v Jones Jnr on BT Sport Box Office.