The Monday Matchmaker: Dubois, Joyce, Williams and more
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As the dust settles on each big fight weekend, The Monday Matchmaker aims to discuss the best options that, in victory or defeat, each boxer has available to them, and predicts their likely next steps... This week Tom Craze on Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce, Liam Williams and Sunny Edwards among others...
Having emphatically dismantled his main domestic rival inside five rounds, it’s hard to view the Londoner as anything other than the weekend’s big winner.
Such was the quality of Dubois’s performance, though, that it leaves his handlers with a welcome dilemma: do you look to capitalise immediately on the momentum, or do you apply the brakes, knowing that your charge is – astonishingly – still just 21 years old?
Worth remembering, of course, is that Gorman, while vanquished with the minimum of fuss, remains by some distance the best opponent Dubois (12-0, 11 KOs) has faced. With that in mind, and given his inexperience, there could be an appetite to remain at domestic level and consolidate his position at the same time as banking much-needed rounds.
However, there’s a catch.
Finding Dubois adequate domestic competition might prove difficult: the best British heavyweights are already among – or targeting – the elite, and there’s a sizeable drop in class outside that cohort.
Joe Joyce has, inevitably, been mentioned as an option, but he’ll surely be looking upwards to world level. So too will Hughie Fury, who only recently vacated the belt now in the possession of Dubois. The winner of David Allen vs. David Price next weekend could be an option, but it would be no shock to see Dubois matched with durable types on the fringes of European level rather than go for the Lonsdale outright.
While soundly beaten on Saturday night, Gorman – who only turned 23 a few weeks ago – has plenty of time to regroup. What’s more, if the public demand is for unbeaten prospects to be paired together at an early stage, there’s a necessity that neither the promoter nor the fans cast aside young fighters shortly after the first taste of defeat.
Gorman (16-1, 11 KOs), then, will come again, and though his ceiling appears lower than that of Dubois, strong promotional backing and the wisdom of Ricky Hatton in his corner – together with lessons learned from this setback – can only stand him in good stead.
It’s likely we’ll see Gorman embark on a short rebuilding process next, and nobody would be surprised to see a couple of low-key confidence boosts between now and the end of the year. As noted above, though, there are slim pickings at British level or thereabouts, but Tom Little or Nick Webb would be suitable rebounds. Other than that, it feels most likely that we’ll see Gorman in with more seasoned overseas gatekeeper types, along the lines of Johnson and Cojanu before them. Francesco Pianeta, Mariusz Wach, or Tom Schwarz all fit the bill as the kind of low-risk names that will, if nothing else, bring a scrap of name value to the table.
Another win for The Juggernaut, and it’s one that is likely to install him the fringes of the divisional top 10. Joyce (10-0, 9 KOs) the product of some aggressive, ambitious matchmaking, has now dispatched a former world champion, a former world title challenger, and a WBA ‘Regular’ title challenger in his last three bouts. His style might not be to everyone’s liking – and the consensus seems to be that at least two of the three cards issued in his favour on Saturday were generous – but the momentum being built is very real.
Joyce is, it seems, next in line for the winner of Manuel Charr vs. Trevor Bryan, should that bout eventually materialise, with that lightly-regarded version of a world title seemingly the next target. That means the cries for Joyce to vary his current trajectory and challenge Dubois for the British title are likely futile. The problem with waiting for the winner of this particular WBA muddle is that timelines might not line up neatly, and with no date yet announced for Charr-Bryan, Joyce could be forced to look elsewhere for an interim keep-busy bout to maintain an admirable activity rate that’s seen him rack up four wins since December alone.
Jennings (24-4, 14 KOs) fought in the manner many will have expected him to against Joyce, and while the argument that he did enough to actually win the fight feels a flimsy one, he’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little hard done by in terms of the harsh point deduction and the two wayward scorecards.
Still, he’s unlikely to struggle to find work any time soon. A capable, technically-sound heavyweight who’s fought at world level – and is still on the fringes of that himself – who always turns up in shape without posing a real one-punch threat will always be in demand. At 34, though, it may well be the gatekeeper role to which Jennings now finds himself most often assigned. There’s an argument that Jennings is better than the back-to-back losses at the top of his record, but the Philadephia man needs a win to steady the ship. His affiliation with Top Rank means that’ll likely be back on American soil, and the names of Bogdan Dinu, Bermane Stiverne, or the aforementioned Tom Schwarz could be given consideration.
The Welshman appears to be a man possessed at middleweight and is punching with real spite. Saturday’s two-round demolition of the never-before-stopped Karim Achour ¬– a man who took the heavy-handed David Lemieux the distance – marked the 13th stoppage from Williams in his last 13 wins, and suddenly much bigger fights at 160lb look like realistic prospects.
Williams (21-2-1, 16 KOs) called out WBC champion Jermall Charlo in the hours following his win and, though that might seem fanciful at first glance, the Haymon man is desperately short of credible options given the promotional alignment of the division’s other titleholders.
Achour to Charlo, however, is an almighty leap. Though the goal for Williams is, understandably, a world title shot, testing the waters with a moderately well-known - but eminently beatable - name feels like the more pragmatic option. Both Hassan N’Dam N'Jikam and Gabriel Rosado have the type of profile and an open, come-forward style that would position Williams well for an opportunity to extend his KO streak and its accompanying highlight reel.
If October’s upset points nod over Leon Woodstock was Sharp’s breakout win, Saturday’s rout of a very game Jordan McCorry – himself firmly a top 10-15 contender at the weight domestically – saw the Kent man get his feet under the table.
Sharp (16-0, 8 KOs) looks very much a work in progress, but he’s shown enough to suggest he’s a threat at British level, and a tilt at the current champion, Sam Bowen, may be no more than one or two fights away. An eliminator, of sorts, against Zelfa Barrett makes perfect sense and it’s an interesting clash of styles.
Edwards continues to impress at 115lbs but, aged just 23 and with only 12 fights still on his ledger, the challenge is finding the Croydon technician the type of opponent capable of aiding his development. Less of a problem, however, is finding Edwards sufficient rounds --- his style is such that a distance fight always feels the likely outcome, no matter how lopsided the eventual outcome.
A burgeoning collection of minor belts is one thing – the weekend saw Edwards (12-0, 4 KOs) add an IBF trinket to the WBO European and International straps already picked up – but there’s a chasm between the likes of the just-defeated Hiram Gallardo and those operating in the upper echelons of the weight class. With a dearth of opposition close to home, it’s probable that the next in line will again come from further afield, and Mexico’s experienced Iran Diaz – who’s previously mixed with the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Luis Concepcion, and Nordine Oubaali - would be both an ambitious target and an excellent litmus test.