Eddie Hearn: Dubois vs. Joyce winner could face Usyk for vacant WBO title

Eddie Hearn is saying the winner of this Saturday’s heavyweight match between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce could face Oleksandr Usyk for the vacant WBO title in 2021.

For that to happen, the current WBO champion Anthony Joshua would need to vacate it if the World Boxing Organization insists on him needing to defend it in early 2021 against mandatory Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs).

Hearn has been quite clear that Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) won’t fight Usyk before facing WBC champion Tyson Fury twice next year.

There’s too much at stake on the Joshua-Fury fights, such as money and the desire to become the perceived #1 heavyweight in the division.

Also, Joshua and Fury want to become the undisputed heavyweight champion by holding all four titles, but they’re not going to hold off on their fights if AJ gives up his WBO belt.

Alexander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Eddie Hearn, Joe Joyce - Boxing News

With Usyk ranked #1 and Dubois #2 with the WBO, those two would, in theory, be ordered to fight for the WBO title if it falls vacant next year.

Joyce gets hit too much

“It”s a good fight and an interesting fight,” said Hearn about this Saturday’s match between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce.

“The problem with Joe Joyce is, you watch Joe Joyce, and you say, ‘He’s absolutely terrible,’ but obviously he’s not. He’s extremely fit, and he’s extremely durable.

“I keep going back to the fact that he gets hit a lot, and he got hurt badly to the body by Bryant Jennings in the opening stages of that fight. Daniel Dubois clearly hits very hard.

“I think Joe has got to be very careful in the early stages of the fight. Certainly, Dubois is a complete novice, really, in the heavyweight division, and Joe is as well. But Joe is more experienced, especially through his experience of the WSB,” said Hearn.

Joyce (11-0, 10 KOs) does get hit a lot in his fights, but thus far, he’s been able to take the shots he’s hit with.

Although he was briefly hurt by former heavyweight world title challenger Bryant Jennings last year in July, he recovered quickly and went on to win a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision.

Hearn is obviously going to pick the younger, stronger, and faster 23-year-old Dubois (15-0, 14 KOs) to defeat the 35-year-old Joyce this Saturday night at the Church House in Westminster, UK.

We don’t know whether the X-factor, the great engine that Joyce possesses, will be too much for Dubois. In some Dubois’ fights, he’s looked exhausted when he was forced to go past the early rounds.

Alexander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Eddie Hearn, Joe Joyce - Boxing News

Kevin Johnson had Dubois looking tired and sloppy in 2018. Dubois still won a wide 10 round points decision, but he didn’t look like Joshua’s second coming. He was more robotic-looking and mechanical.

In Dubois’ performance against Johnson, we saw a fighter that could come undone against a heavyweight that pushes a fast pace and has good stamina like Joyce.

Dubois-Joyce winner could face Usyk

“In terms of where they sit, the winner will be the British and European champion,” Hearn continued. “I think that’s about right with the level they’re at at the moment.

“I think they both can go on and be world championship contenders, but they’ve both got a couple of wins to rack on their resumes before they go start fighting for world titles.

“Although the winner could end up fighting Usyk for a vacant world title. So it’s interesting to see what happens with that one on Saturday,” said Hearn.

There’s a good chance that the WBO will order Joshua to defend his title against Usyk in the first half of 2021, which will lead to him vacating it immediately after.

Alexander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Eddie Hearn, Joe Joyce - Boxing News

Usyk looked poor in his recent narrow 12 round unanimous decision over Dereck Chisora on October 31st. He did win, but by these close scores: 115-113, 115-113, and 117-112.

Usyk lacked the power to keep Chisora off of him, and his size was that of a rehydrated cruiserweight and not a heavyweight.

Hearn picks Dubois over Joyce

“So I guess the sensible thing is, Dubois early and Joyce to weather the storm, and not expose him because I think Dubois can fight, but just out-last him if you like,” Hearn said.

“There is a sort of comparison between Dubois and an early AJ where they’re strong and muscular.

“In time, as AJ has done, he’s learned that actually, it’s better to be a little leaner and concentrate more on your boxing than your strength.

“I think if you ask me to have a bet, I’d bet Dubois for a stoppage within six rounds. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Joyce whether that early storm, but he’s got to be careful because all these guys can punch, and Dubois can definitely punch.

“So you saw Joe against Usyk and [Michael] Wallisch in his last fight, and he got hit a lot in that fight. So I’m not sure. It’s an interesting fight,” said Hearn.

Again, the logical choice is the one that Hearn has made in selecting Dubois to beat the older fighter Joyce, but we could see a minor upset in this fight.

Alexander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Eddie Hearn, Joe Joyce - Boxing News

Joyce had Usyk looking completely ragged and tired at the end of five rounds in their fight in the World Series of Boxing. If you look at that fight and imagine it going 12, it’s easy to predict a knockout victory for Joyce.

He was wearing Usyk down with his methodical attack. The same applies to Joyce’s highly controversial points loss to Tony Yoka in the 2016 Olympics. Yoka looked exhausted and beaten by the third round, but he was given a questionable win.

Imagine Yoka trying to deal with Joyce at the pro level and being forced to fight hard for a full 12 rounds instead of just three. Joyce would likely tire Yoka out and stop him.

Dubois may lose this fight on Saturday if he can’t handle the pace, and it’s going to potentially set-up a rematch between Joyce and Usyk for the WBO title.

Alexander Usyk, Daniel Dubois, Eddie Hearn, Joe Joyce - Boxing News
Hearn will try his best to ensure that the WBO allows Joshua to swerve Usyk to fight Fury twice in 2021. It’s difficult to imagine the WBO telling Usyk to wait until 2022 for his mandatory title shot.