Is Dubois a genuine threat to Joshua? What did Bivol gain by beating Zinad?

Sports

Daniel Dubois may have earned the right to face Anthony Joshua for the vacant IBF title with an impressive eighth-round victory over Filip Hrgovic on Saturday.

Dubois came from behind to defeat Hrgovic to win the IBF interim heavyweight title. With Deontay Wilder — the other candidate to face Joshua — losing by KO to Zhilei Zhang on the same card, chances are that an all-British matchup between Joshua, of Hertfordshire, England, and Dubois, from London is next.

Dmitry Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight champion, was scheduled to face Artur Beterbiev this past Saturday, but Beterbiev suffered an injury during training and Bivol faced late replacement Malik Zinad. With that fight out of the way, the fight against Beterbiev and Bivol was rescheduled for Oct. 12.

Now the dust has settled on a huge weekend of boxing, we look at what’s next for two of the fighters that secured key victories.

What level of threat does Dubois bring for Joshua?

From his seat just a few feet away from the ring at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Joshua will have seen some things he can potentially exploit and other he needs to be careful about in Dubois’ performance against Hrgovic on Saturday.

Dubois (21-2, 20 KOs) returned from Saudi Arabia to London as IBF interim heavyweight champion after Hrgovic was stopped on cuts in Round 8, with Dubois in the ascendancy. The full IBF world title could potentially be on the line when Dubois faces Joshua, as expected, at Wembley Stadium in London on Sept. 21, where Joshua will be attempting to become a three-time world champion.

While Joshua could start as a favorite against Dubois, he has no room to be complacent against someone with Dubois’ power, spirit and motivation.

But Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs), 34, will have seen how easy Hrgovic was able to land right hands on Dubois, and the 26-year-old Londoner did not make any adjustments to limit his Croatian opponent’s success. Joshua’s right hand recently destroyed former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in March. Joshua scored a spectacular knockout of Ngannou in Round 2, when he landed a right hand clean on the former UFC heavyweight champion’s chin and left him down for the count.

It was a savage KO, and if Dubois offers Joshua the same opportunities to land the right hand he gave Hrgovic (17-1, 14 KOs), Joshua could make it an early night. Joshua is a lot more heavy handed than Hrgovic and, although Dubois showed great durability to absorb so many right hands last weekend, he has been stopped twice (by Joe Joyce in 2020 and Oleksandr Usyk last year) and was floored three times in the first round by Kevin Lerena in December 2022 before recovering to win in Round 3.

But Dubois also hits hard and Hrgovic’s cuts are testament to that.

Dubois also showed a high work rate against Hrgovic and you can expect him to also set a high tempo against Joshua, in a bid to try and prevent Joshua from settling and planting his feet to land big shots. Despite getting nailed continuously by Hrgovic’s right hand, Dubois showed great heart to keep on the front foot and applying pressure.

It will be a fun build-up, and Dubois should not be dismissed from pulling off the upset win. But this is Joshua’s fight to lose. He is going into the fight in red-hot form, high in confidence and in destructive form after registering three stoppage wins in the last 12 months.


What did we learn from Bivol’s sixth-round TKO win over Zinad?

If you didn’t fancy Bivol to beat Beterbiev before last weekend, Bivol’s latest fight might persuade you to think otherwise.

Bivol (23-0, 11 KOs), 33, inevitably stopped Zinad to retain his WBA light heavyweight title on Saturday, and looked razor-sharp in the process. The victory set up an Oct. 12 undisputed light heavyweight championship fight against Beterbiev in Riyadh, after Bivol’s fellow Russian had withdrawn from fighting last weekend due to a knee injury.

Zinad had stepped in at short notice to replace Beterbiev, and can be credited for his ambition during the fight especially considering he was involved in a hard fight in Australia less than six weeks ago. But Zinad had never boxed anyone near Bivol’s level before and the result was never in doubt.

Nevertheless, it was still a valuable exercise for Bivol, who emerges from his latest title defense with the benefit of keeping active, and registering his first stoppage win in 10 fights. Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs), 39, has not fought since January and Bivol has also only boxed twice in the last two years.

Bivol was accurate with his punches and efficiently took care of Zinad. Beterbiev, the only current champion with 100% KO ratio, will be a lot more dangerous, but Bivol is better for Saturday’s confidence-boosting performance.

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