Daniel Dubois fights Bogdan Dinu this Saturday.
When it was announced last year that undefeated heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce would meet in the squared circle, most assumed Dubois would prevail.
The facts seemed to back up Dubois. He was younger by 13 years and appeared it hit harder. Joyce could sometimes be robotic in the ring, while Dubois had looked more natural.
Looks can sometimes be deceiving.
Joyce, though listed as an underdog, was extremely confident before the fight. He smiled like a guy who knew something.
Joyce planned to box and jab Dubois silly. On fight night, he executed his plan perfectly. Dubois left eye began to swell in round three, closing soon after.
Joyce kept jabbing.
Entering round 10 of 12, the fight was close. Dubois was ahead on two of the three scorecards. A final jolting jab drove Dubois to take a knee. He was counted out.
Criticism rained down on the young fighter. He quit, they said. Even after it was reported that Dubois was diagnosed with medial and orbital floor fractures, as well as retinal bleeding, the criticism continued. Likely, more punishment would have left him with double-vision.
Many, including a loudmouth fighter from the UK, said taking a knee was disgraceful.
The loss stunned Dubois, forcing him to do some real soul-searching.
“I was at times in a dark place,” Dubois told Tom Hopkinson of www.mirror.co.uk. “They say it’s testing for your soul and it took me a while. After a defeat like that, you have to take time out and reflect on different things and some decisions have to be made — how you’re going to move forward, you can’t go back to how it was before — and that’s what I had to do.”
He made changes.
After letting his damaged lobe heal for seven months, Dubois will be returning to the ring this Saturday against Romanian Bogdan Dinu. He’ll have new trainer Shane McGuigan in his corner for the first time.
But what about Dubois? Is he be worried about his eye?
"I don’t think so, “said Dubois. “It’s healed now, I know it’s healed myself.
"I’ve sparred, I’ve done rounds with Derek Chisora, he’s throwing everything at me and I’ve been able to cope with it and come through it and now I’m ready to go again.”
When a fighter loses for the first time questions can linger. Some never completely recover. Others learn and work to improve. Dubois can bet his last buck that Dinu will be throwing jabs at his eye. No mercy.
Dubois feels he’s ready.
“I’m a born fighter and this is what I do, this is my profession,” Dubois said. “I’m not a weak-hearted guy, I’m coming back and I’m ready to show the world again what I’m capable of.”
There’s an old saying: “When you fall off a horse, you have to get back in the saddle.”
Young Daniel Dubois has a lot to prove.
The ring is his horse.