The eyes have it for Young Stoneface

The eyes have it for Young Stoneface

By Alan Hubbard

Daniel Dubois elected not to take the knee before his bout with Ricardo Snijders. Instead it was left to his opponent to do so less than a couple of minutes into the contest last weekend – though it was involuntary, for pugilistic and not political reasons.

A crippling left hook to the belly saw him given his first count, followed by two more before it was all over early in the second.

In truth, the inadequate Dutchman was no ring Rembrandt and he did not paint the prettiest of pictures on the canvas.

In fairness the pallid late substitute took his lumps, as everyone suspected he would. From the short- fused Dynamite Dan in the BT studios which told us a little more about the south Londoner’s fistic progress. But what it did indicate was that out of the ring Dubois, 23 this Saturday, is maturing nicely as a personality, no longer answering questions in monosyllables but chatting amicably with a neat turn of phrase and looking every one of his 6ft 5in as a future world champ.

He may not yet have the charisma of a Bruno, who generously describes him as the future of boxing, but he has character. And boy, does he have clout, and common sense.

Although Dubois has begun to exude a more popular persona, he has refrained from joining the Black Lives Matter movement and purposely does not take the knee. In fact very few British boxers of any colour have done so in the successful no-crowds summer shows. Unlike Anthony Joshua, he is not a political animal .He told the Daily Mail: “I have not even considered taking the knee. For me, All Lives Matter.

“I do not have to make statements for other people. I choose to make mine with my fists. Charity begins at home. It is the lives of my family which come first for me. There is a long way to go for full equality for all. So I’m not being drawn into movements where I don’t know all the political background and don’t fully understand the implications.

“Any impact for good I can make from the platform I have now will come from winning the world heavyweight title in a way which inspires young people everywhere to succeed and achieve their dreams, whatever their colour or background.

Well said, young sir!

The more I see of him in the ring the more he reminds me of that brute of a heavyweight from the sixties, Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston.

There aren’t many of us left who can recall seeing Liston in the flesh. He was an ogre, in the ring and out, terrifying all in the heavyweight division until the precocious young Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, sussing him out with his mouthy magic, dazzling hand speed and dancing feet ,as a bully who, as they say, did not like it up him, on that sweltering February night in Miami 56 years ago; and subsequently three months later in Lewiston, Maine.

What I remember most about Liston is his eyes: Dark, scary, and unblinking as he impassively pursued the prey in front of him, And that relentless piledriving jab with his huge left hand, setting them up for his thundrclap right which accounted for so many of his 50-odd opponents. Aptly, he was known as Old Stoneface.

He was well into his mid-thirties – ancient for a heavyweight in those days – when the Mafia, who ran him, made the mistake of letting him fight the 22-year-old Clay, a 7-1 underdog who as he never stopped telling us, shook up the world!

The undefeated Dubois has the same unnerving, expressionless Liston look about him as he stalks across the ring, his eyes fixed steadfastly on his opponent. But as personalities they are, thankfully, poles apart.

While Dynamite Dan is developing into a most pleasant young man from a large but happy family, opening up cogently in interviews and has a blameless backstory – never in any sort of trouble – there was nothing sunny about Sonny, an old lag renowned for beating up police and prison officers, He did plenty of porridge before discovering boxing. Or vice-versa.

He wasn’t the brightest of individuals, either. Police once stopped him as he was driving his Cadillac along The Strip in Las Vegas rather jerkily, in a stop-start fashion. They discovered that Sonny was tapping his foot on the accelerator to the rhythm of the pop music on his car radio.

It is widely believed that the Mafia, who controlled his career, also bumped him off . He was found dead, naked in his Las Vegas home, ostensibly from a drugs overdose, when aged around 40, possibly more, in December 1970.

Because of his Liston-like demeanour, in style and stature once the bell goes, you might term Dubois ‘Young Stoneface.’ Nothing seems to faze him and there is not an Ali around to determine whether he has truly got what it takes – and can take it. Though Tyson Fury, King of Queensberry with Dubois as the Crown Prince, may come close.

Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren – henceforth to be known as the Magic Man as Fury dubbed him on BT – sys he is so confident in his burgeoning ability would probably risk putting him with any of the world’s top men including the dangerous, highly skilled Ukrainian Olaksandr Usyk – with the exception of Fury. Personally I would like to see Dubois have at least another half dozen contest against much stiffer opposition before he steps into the higher echelon.

Joe Joyce, the Olympic silver medallist from Rio 2016 and similarly undefeated, could provide it should their much- awaited re-scheduled a clash happen at the O2 on October 24. At 34, he is dozen years older than Dubois but one of boxing is most sage adages is that the first thing to go in an ageing fighter is his legs – and the last thing is his punch. The 40 year old Russian, Alexander Povetkin, is recent proof of that. Just ask Dillion Whyte!
Dubois, whom the impressed Hayemaker describes as a ’beast’ has speed, youth and power in his corner. Yet while he may be 5-1 on to upend Joyce he’s no racing certainty. I think he will ko him, but he is likely  to have to do so within the first four or five rounds. Should it go into a second-half Dynamite’s fuse might fizzle out. Hopefully, pandemic permitting. We shall see. Can’t wait.

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9 June 2023 | York Hall, Bethnal Green