Joshua vs Dubois: the full story

With Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois fighting for the heavyweight title this September, we take a closer look at what’s on the line

It’s an all-British battle for the vacant heavyweight belt this September, with two London-born lads expected to leave it all on the canvas for the bragging rights in their hometown. Riyadh Season comes to Wembley Stadium on 21 September, and Anthony Joshua is set to face Daniel Dubois in the main event. Joshua, the former two-time heavyweight title holder, has been a dominant force in world heavyweight boxing for years and fought at Wembley four times, while Dubois, the younger man and IBF title holder currently ranked #6 by The Ring magazine, will be making his stadium debut. 

Dubois, the hulking 26-year old with a 21-2 record and 20 of his wins by knockout, became the interim IBF champ after his most recent scrap with Croatian fighter Filip Hrgović. Dubois showed staying power and a punishing left hook as the pair exchanged blows. A weeping wound on the left eye of Hrgovic finally led to a stoppage in the 9th round. It would turn out to be a definitive moment for the likeable giant, who was raised in a remarkable sporting family of eleven siblings and has a sister, Caroline, who boxed at the Olympics.

Dubois’ position allowed him to rise to de facto champion after unified heavyweight champ Oleksander Usyk decided to vacate his belt. It was a surprising move for the undefeated Ukrainian, who had only unified the belts with his victory against defending champ Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia the previous month. Announcing it would be a ‘present’ to Dubois and AJ in their upcoming fight, the possibility of a real heavyweight title on the line makes the stakes all the higher in this all-British main event. With both AJ and Dubois coming off the back of winning streaks that have cemented their reputations as men who can punch like a horse kicking, it remains to be seen who will emerge triumphant on the night this September. 

All the more impressive is the fact that both fighters have rebuilt successfully after losses to Usyk – Joshua in 2021 and 2022, and Dubois last year. Joshua won the last four of his previous fights by stoppage, knocking MMA champion Francis Ngannou out in the second round of their fight in Riyadh. Alongside this, AJ seems to have let his role model persona slide, embracing a tougher and more menacing attitude in interviews and press conferences. One face-off had to be cancelled after a near-altercation between the two fighters; apparently, AJ felt disrespected and nearly threw a chair at Dubois. As promoter Eddie Hearn says, “He’s always had that edge, but I think he’s a lot less guarded now. He thinks: ‘I don’t give a f*ck anymore.’ Now, if you put it on him, he wants to take your head off.”

FIRST FACE-OFF! 🔥 | FUll Anthony Joshua vs Daniel Dubois press conference

Joshua has much at stake in the fight, with the promise of becoming a three-time world champion if he wins. But he is focused on the task at hand, as he said in the press conference. “We’re all in the wild. We’re a pack of lions and hunters. I have to keep my eyes peeled, I can’t just focus on those two [Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder].

“I can be rough if I need to, I can be a one-hit sniper, take you out if I need to. I’m glad I went through the process of being reckless, the process of trying to out-box boxers, now trying to be a one-hit sniper. So I feel well-rounded as a fighter now. I’ve got a bag full of weapons when it comes to a fight.” 

Meanwhile, for Dubois, his reasoning is crystal clear. “To fight the best and beat the best. AJ has been the king for a long time. We all know he’s been the king for a very long time. On the night, I need to become the king slayer…” Johnny Fisher, Dubois’ sparring partner, told Sky News that Dubois was ‘the hardest puncher’ he’d been in the ring with. “He can seriously whack,” said Fisher. “I think it will be a knockout. I think Dubois is going to bring the heat and put it on Joshua. That’s what he knows, that’s his way. He’s an aggressive fighter but he’s calculating that aggression.”

It’s wise for Dubois, a ferocious puncher with a loping, come-forward style, to think carefully about how to place that aggression, given Joshua is well known for his strong right hand counterpunch, a viper that lies in wait should Dubois get too close at the wrong moment. Equally, Joshua has reason to beware: with stories that years ago, when the pair sparred for Team GB, Dubois, as AJ has it, “cracked me with a good shot”.                    . 

The eight-year age gap between them, with Joshua at 34 and Dubois at 26, is the quintessential boxing question of age vs experience: Dubois may be the younger man, but Joshua might have  the pivotal extra years of ring IQ when the going gets tough. AJ, asked by Youtuber Antoine Allen if he could see the hunger in Dubois that he had at that age, agreed heartily. “He’s very hungry. People underestimate Dubois,” he says. But he adds that his experience has equipped him for this fight. “I feel well-rounded as an athlete. I don’t just depend on one way to beat you.” 

With a war set between an elder statesman and the bright future of the heavyweight division – in their shared home city to boot – there’s much to be gained for either potential victor. Regardless, with two towering big punchers in the ring, the 21 September fight is very unlikely to be boring… 

Joshua vs Dubois – Riyadh Card Wembley Edition takes place at Wembley stadium on 21 September. Find tickets, and full card details, here

Plan the best Wembley experience by securing your accommodation for September now with one of our curated ticket and hotel packages. Turn your event experience into a memorable night, weekend, or holiday with just a few clicks, here