Throughout history there are fights that should have been made but never were. Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe is the prime example. There are other ones that happen too late (Mayweather and Pacquiao). Very rarely do we get fights which everyone wants. These fights are usually a risk for almost everybody involved - apart from the public. The Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce fight on Easter Saturday is very much in that category. So who has the most to lose?
On the face of it, the Greenwich born fighter has the best chance to recover if it does not go his way on the 11th April. A lot depends on the manner of his defeat though. With any boxer, particularly at heavyweight, it is easy to look good when you are fighting boxers on a lower level than you, who you know do not pose a sufficient threat. Dubois has certainly looked good in almost every fight he has had. More than good most of the time. But the question is always there, often unsaid. What happens when he can’t bully his opponent, when they don’t fall down, and even give him back some of his own medicine? Dubois is odds on to become the first person to beat Joyce. If he doesn’t however, those questions will no longer be in the background or unsaid, they will form the first line of every narrative written about him.
Being the older fighter, it would seem that Joyce has fewer options if he doesn’t get his hand raised at the O2. He is 34, hardly over the hill in heavyweight terms, but a loss against Dubois, particularly a heavy loss will make it hard for him to step up into what is already a congested upper tier of the division. He is not talked about in such exalted terms as his opponent, but his amateur career, and indeed the names he has dispatched in his professional one, suggest he should be. He could have made that step up without facing Dubois, so this is a brave move for the Commonwealth gold medalist.
The man with perhaps the most to lose is promoter Frank Warren. First of all, Dubois is one of his top prospects. A win will turn him into something approaching the real deal. A loss, though not devastating, would certainly set back his career - and his earning potential – for up to two years. A lot can happen in two years, especially in a division which has never been so buoyant, at domestic and world level. The fight is PPV, one of probably five such nights in quick succession. Warren will need a good card to attract significant numbers, and if it was to fail, questions will be asked about whether he can compete with you know who.