Anthony Joshua Takes on the Role of Challenger Before the IBF Title Fight “The One Who Kneels First Will Also Be Him,” Says Daniel Dubois

In December 2020, Anthony Joshua defended his unified heavyweight champion title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev, marking a significant triumph in his illustrious career. Meanwhile, Daniel Dubois faced a crushing defeat a month earlier, succumbing to the relentless jab of Joe Joyce, which left him with a broken eye socket and ended his fight prematurely.

At that time, the prospect of a world title fight between Joshua and Dubois seemed far-fetched. The situation became even more complicated after Oleksandr Usyk defeated both fighters, taking Joshua’s heavyweight titles and stopping Dubois in the ninth round last August. The heavyweight division, influenced heavily by the influx of Saudi Arabian money, has seen many unexpected turns, but none more surprising than the announcement of an IBF title fight between Joshua and Dubois.

Scheduled for September 21st, Dubois, with a record of 21-2 (20 KOs), will defend his newly awarded IBF heavyweight title against Joshua, 28-3 (25 KOs), at Wembley Stadium. This match will draw around 90,000 fans, eagerly anticipating the showdown. Eight years after winning the same IBF belt by defeating Charles Martin, Joshua, now 34, finds himself in the unfamiliar position of the challenger once again.

“The management team worked hard with negotiations and, for me, it’s like a cherry on top. It’s a big bonus,” Joshua expressed during an interview with Steve Bunce on the 5 Live Boxing Podcast. “The IBF are gonna do what they do. They wanna force their mandatories and Usyk has a rematch with [Tyson] Fury so Daniel’s now the IBF champion so I’m just coming in as a challenger. I’m not fighting for a vacant title, I’m coming in as a challenger for the title.”

Reflecting on his new role, Joshua added, “I knew it would happen at some stage. When I fought Dillian [Whyte] I said he can go second. It’s all about who walks out last, right? For me, it doesn’t matter who is first in the ring.”

Daniel Dubois, with renewed confidence and determination, had his own take on the upcoming fight. “Anthony Joshua takes on the role of challenger before the IBF title fight with me, but the one who kneels first will also be him,” Dubois declared boldly.

Dubois has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past six months. Once criticized for his perceived fragility, he has since secured two impressive stoppage victories, reinventing himself as a formidable and mentally tough pressure fighter. His recent performances against Jarrell Miller and Filip Hrgovic have demonstrated his growth and resilience in the ring.

Joshua, too, has faced his share of adversity. After a shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz in 2019, he rebounded by outboxing a poorly prepared Ruiz to regain his belts six months later. The journey to rebuild his reputation and confidence was long and arduous, involving multiple trainers and a series of challenging fights. However, since teaming up with trainer Ben Davison, Joshua has shown signs of returning to his best form, most notably in his decisive victories over Otto Wallin and Francis Ngannou.

Despite his progress, critics continue to question Joshua’s chin and stamina. Nonetheless, Joshua’s experience and understanding of the sport have given him a unique perspective on Dubois’ journey. Acknowledging the challenges faced by his opponent, Joshua said, “He’s a fighter. That’s what he does, he fights. People paint people with brushes all the time in this industry but I think Dubois is a fighter at the end of the day. That’s what he does. He had a few tough nights. He had something like 20 good nights and two bad nights and they label him with that brush. I look past that and I know he’s a fighter at the end of the day. He’s coming.”

The upcoming fight between Joshua and Dubois is set to be a thrilling encounter, with both fighters eager to prove themselves on the world stage. For Joshua, it’s an opportunity to reclaim his status as a champion and solidify his legacy. For Dubois, it’s a chance to validate his transformation and establish himself as a formidable force in the heavyweight division.

As the fight approaches, anticipation continues to build, with fans and pundits alike eager to see how this epic showdown unfolds. Regardless of the outcome, the match promises to be a testament to the resilience and determination of both fighters, embodying the true spirit of boxing.

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