Amateur sensation Caroline Dubois impressed in her professional debut at lightweight, winning all six rounds to secure a points victory over durable Latvian Vaida Masiokaite. Dubois landed heavy blows throughout a one-sided contest but Masiokaite showed the toughness to absorb significant punishment and take the fight the distance.
IN THE RED CORNER – CAROLINE DUBOIS (England: 0-0)
WIth a reputation built off the back of a highly decorated amateur career, Dubois received a rousing ovation from the crowd as she entered to the strains of ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond. A four-time European Youth and 2018 World and Olympic Youth champion, Dubois would now be testing her mettle in the paid ranks for the very first time.
The 21-year old Dubois does have the professional game in her blood, with her older brother Daniel Dubois an active heavyweight who has already held the British championship.
Dubois was excited to box on the same card as her inspiration Claressa Shields who faced Ema Kozin later in the evening, receiving a pair of slippers in a gesture of friendship from the American before the fight.
IN THE BLUE CORNER – VAIDA MASIOKAITE (2-14-4, 1KO)
Despite a poor win-loss record on paper, Lithuanian Masiokaite had a record of durability, having gone the distance in 18 of her 20 professional fights. The only career stoppage defeat suffered by the battle-hardened veteran came at the hands of Chantelle Cameron, the undefeated and currently reigning IBF and WBC world champion at junior welterweight.
Dressed in purple shorts and gold gloves that were raised high to form a defensive barrier, Dubois rammed out stiff jabs to open the fight before backing Masiokaite onto the ropes and releasing a flurry of punches.
Swift head movement from Dubois helped her evade a jab from Masiokaite before connecting with a scoring left hand to the jaw.
Masiokaite tried to hold onto a clinch and slow the attack, but Dubois displayed her strength by pushing off the Latvian and letting go with another barrage of punches. A procession of jabs and straight right hands continued to land for the Londoner in what was a dominant first round.
Clad in black and orange, Masiokaite pawed out her left hand to open round two only for the powerful Dubois to spring forward and land with scoring blows to keep the Latvian on the back foot.
The flashing gold gloves of Dubois connected with another jab before Nasiokaite grabbed onto a clinch, only letting go after a verbal demand from referee Chris Jones. Dubois landed another flurry of punches before the bell with Masiokaite backed against the ropes in what was an impressive start from the English fighter.
In the corner between rounds, notable trainer Shane McGuigan advised Dubois to stop headhunting, encouraging his fighter to connect punches to the body before going for hooks to the head.
A powerful left hook in the opening seconds of round three buckled the knees of Masiokaite with the Latvian showing good balance and powers of recovery to maintain her footing as referee Jones ruled no knockdown.
Dubois fizzed powerful shots through the guard of Masiokaite before following the instructions of trainer McGuigan to perfection, connecting with a left hook to the body followed by a thudding left hook to the head.
The game Latvian fighter absorbed significant punishment as the round went on and Dubois racked up scoring shots while making her opponent miss with good head movement.
Crouching behind a high guard, a dominant Dubois continued to score with jabs interspersed by straight left-handed blows. With her back against the ropes and in survival mode, Masiokaite held onto her opponent and forced a separation from referee Jones. Another clinch was broken up by Jones as Masiokaite looked to weather the storm against an energetic Dubois who skipped on her toes and launched attacks in waves.
Teak tough Masiokaite continued to absorb punishment in round five, circling the ring and firing out jabs while the powerful left hand of Dubois was beginning to find the target almost at will.
Despite most career opening fights going four rounds, there were no conditioning issues for debutant Dubois, who fought on the front foot once again in round six. Masiokaite tried to wrap up Dubois in another clinch, but the English fighter freed her arms and threw heavy hooks with her Latvian opponent prone against the ropes.
In the final minute of the fight, Masiokaite circled the ring with her guard raised as Dubois skipped in and out of range, fighting behind the jab in search of a knockout blow. Ultimately, the final bell arrived with Masiokaite taking it to the scorecard where Dubois had likely registered a dominant victory to begin her professional career.
There were no surprises when the score was announced, with referee Jones awarding Dubois the victory by a shutout score of 60-54. A victorious Dubois posed with her team for photographs after the fight while the crowd sang along to the de facto sporting anthem Sweet Caroline.
WHAT THEY SAID
In her post-fight interview, Dubois described the crowd as “amazing” and expressed her happiness to get the pressure of a professional debut “out of the way.”
“I felt (nerves) a little bit so I feel I rushed my work a little bit, if I’d have just sat back and just boxed like I know I can, I would have done better.”
During commentary, unified world junior lightweight champion Mikaela Meyer dished out heavy praise to Dubois during the fight. “I see a young Claressa,” said Mayer in a reference to unified world middleweight champion Shields who would be up next on the card.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER
Activity is the most important thing for Dubois at this early stage of her career, and former world cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson heaped praise on Dubois after the fight while emphasizing the importance of proper management and development.
“I wouldn’t rush her because this is potentially the most exciting prospect in British Boxing” said Nelson, expressing his belief that Dubois had the tools and potential to be a unified world champion if managed the right way.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER
Masiokaite has proven herself to be a durable and tough opponent time and again having gone the distance with world title contender Natasha Jonas and rising star Rhiannon Dixon among many others. It will not be tough for the veteran to find work as a proven difficult opponent who does not carry frightening knockout power.
Author’s Scorecard (round by round)