McClory on... Dubois vs Gorman

Jason McClory
11/07/2019 7:10pm

Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

In the first of a new column, Manchester matchmaker Jason McClory examines the Dubois vs Gorman heavyweight clash, as well as suggesting some other domestic scraps he would like to see made...

Daniel Dubois against Nathan Gorman is an intriguing fight. They can both box, but they box in different ways.

On one hand, you’ve got Gorman; who has got fast hands, and works well on the inside. However, I did notice against Razvan Cojanu that he was getting past the Romanian’s jab with his head movement, but once he got inside, he did nothing. He can work well on the inside though - against Sean ‘Big Sexy’ Turner he worked really well.

On the other hand, you’ve got Dubois; who has a good jab, he’s got power. There’s not many heavyweights that can stand up to that power. He can fight on the inside, but I think he leaves himself open a lot. You don’t really want to get into a slugfest – like he did with Richard Lartey – against Gorman.

As a matchmaker, I love a fight like this, because you’ve got an inkling that Fighter A will win, but if Fighter B wins, it’s not a massive surprise. It’s not an upset. I’d say Dubois and Gorman are just about level-pegging, at the moment. It’s going to come down to some very, very slight differences. Is it going to be fast hands and work rate on the inside? Is it going to be the long jab and the power-bombs over the guard that are going to win it? Or, is it going to be a draw? They both have the ability to nullify the other’s style.

It’s not me sitting on the fence, I just really don’t know who’ll win. I really don’t.

They are two guys putting their undefeated records on the line, at a stage where they don’t need to. Someone’s got to win, and someone’s got to lose. I don’t think having a loss early in your career is such a bad thing. David Haye got annihilated by Carl Thompson, and went on to be a star. Whoever loses will get the chance to rebuild.

It’s not such a big rebuild, either. They’ll come back, have an eight or 10-round tick-over to get back in the flow and then it’s a case of taking a different path. Fighter A has gone up the WBO route, let’s take Fighter B up the IBF route and let’s see if they can meet again further down the line. At that age, it’s not like they are on their last legs.

The winner, I – personally – would like to keep at Inter-continental or International level for a year, 18 months, fighting guys of all different styles, but at that level. A level above journeyman, a level where people still come with a bit of ambition, but all things being equal, they should beat, just to give them the experience. Whoever wins this fight has all the tools, apart from experience. Whoever loses, isn’t going to be far behind them anyway. They’ll have their comeback fight, then straight into some kind of Inter-continental-type fight. They only fall one fight behind the winner.

I didn’t put this fight together, but I think it’s the bravest matchmaking amongst prospects since James DeGale against George Groves. Frank Warren can make that call because he believes in the quality of both boxers. He knows a loss isn’t the end of the world. Groves and DeGale had very good careers, and James got to the world title before George. Both Dubois and Gorman have got such quality, that it’ll just be a case of who’s better on the night. If they fought five times, the winner of the first fight might only win two of the five.

Sunny Edwards is fighting Hiram Gallardo on the same card. Sunny is in that bracket with Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders, that can adapt in the ring to what’s in front of him. If things aren’t going right in the ring, he can figure out the puzzle and adapt to it. He is, without a doubt, going to emulate his brother, Charlie, the WBC flyweight title holder, and become a world champion. He has got all the tools, he just needs the experience.

Some boxers need a coach to tell them exactly what to do in the corner. Some boxers need a trainer to keep them fit and just remind them what the plan is. Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders and Sunny Edwards’ in-ring IQ is second to none. They know what to do, when, because they’ve been doing it all their lives.

I think over the next couple of fights, he’ll face a very similar level of opponent, just moving him forward and giving him something different to deal with each time. Then look at a domestic dust-up, towards the end of the year.

Gallardo is a solid test. He had a good win against Jose Eduardo Nunez, who can really punch, last year. Flyweight and super flyweight are different to most other weights, as there just aren’t the fighters out there to get the experience against. If you look at Kevin Satchell, a few years back, he fought for the Commonwealth flyweight title in his eighth fight, his ninth fight he fought for the British, and his 11th fight he won the European. It moves fast in the lower weight classes. Sunny can handle it. He’s in that elite category.

It’s just about making sure he’s got the right opponents in front of him. It’s like I said about Dubois and Gorman, it’s about keeping them at a level where they can learn. We don’t rush them, we move them and advance them at the right time. That’s the key.

There’s a domestic fight I’d like to make with Sunny and Marc Leach. It’s a dangerous fight for Sunny.

Zelfa Barrett returned to winning ways after his defeat to Ronnie Clark, beating Lyon Woodstock by unanimous decision, to win the Commonwealth super featherweight title, on the undercard of Josh Warrington against Kid Galahad. Fighters always spout this: ‘I’ve had a loss, but I’m going to learn from this and come back better.’ Probably, only 25 per cent of them actually do. Zelfa Barrett falls into that 25 per cent. He took a loss where he looked like a deer in the headlights, to be fair. Once it wasn’t going his way, he went: ‘Oh no!’ Give him his due, he really rebounded. He has learned from his mistakes, and he has put them right. He has adapted his style and is now able to adapt to the fighter in front of him.

The art of boxing is about hitting without getting hit. That’s two fights in a row now where Lyon has gone in with Plan A and when it’s not worked, he’s continued with Plan A. He’s not been out-fought because you would struggle to out-fight Lyon. He has not been out-toughed, because you would struggle to out-tough Lyon. He’s been out-boxed by both Zelfa and Archie Sharp. This is not fighting, this is boxing. I love the kid to bits, but that’s the harsh truth of it. In-ring intelligence and being able to adapt is the key. Unfortunately, both Zelfa and Archie were able to adapt their game to fighting Lyon, but Lyon wasn’t able to adapt his game to fight them.

Lyon took fights he didn’t need to take, but he took them and made them entertaining. He’ll be given a chance to try to rectify some of his mistakes and come again. I think he’ll need an eight-round fight or maybe a couple of six-rounders. He needs fights where he’s got guys in front of him that he’s got to unlock the puzzle. We’ve seem lots of guys get in the ring, take a pasting and get a pat on the back for taking it. That’s not the sport. That’s not what we are doing here. He’s got to adapt to what’s taking place in the fight. He punches hard and he’ll always be there at the end, but we need to see more from him.

As for Zelfa, I’d like to match him against Archie Sharp. I think their styles would gel really well. The winner of that would go onto fight the winner of Sam Bowen and Anthony Cacace. It’s an exciting time for the 130lbs division.

Jason McClory was talking to John Angus MacDonald