Bad times. Daniel Dubois, Fraser Clarke and knowing when to stick and when to pivot

Increasingly, as boxing becomes more of an entertainment business and no longer feels the need to pretend otherwise, the word “time” tends to be heard outside the ring rather than inside.

Unlike in the past, when it was sometimes used to explain why a fighter landed a knockout blow or a fighter struggled to repeat past form, today we hear the word “time” used most often when fights break down or what : the reason was postponed. In those moments, we’re told that it’s “all a matter of timing” and that the fight will happen when it’s good and ready, with additional phrases like “marinate” and “build” and “it’ll be bigger when they both have belts” used in conjunction with it.

Boxing, of course, has always been an art of the times, both in the competitive and the game sense. But never before has there been such an emphasis on timing fights and making sure they happen when they are most profitable. This, among other reasons, is perhaps why most sports divisions tend to stagnate, and why many of today’s champions have no problem fighting once or twice a year. Eager to be on time, it seems these champions will only fight when it suits them, oblivious to how quickly time can pass, how it can later turn into regret, until, like so many fighters before them, they look : do something in the ring and realize they can’t. That’s when they know it’s got them. Bad time. Father time. Then they know it’s too late.

In the heavyweight division, we’ve seen two storylines in recent days that have been based on timing, for better or for worse. The first of these was a purse drama involving the British heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley and a mandatory challenger Fraser Clarke, which, at least on social media, has generated the kind of performance outrage and historiography usually reserved for more meaningful and interesting fights. It did, I think, because those who were invested in it, mainly the fans, both the boxers and their camps, were convinced that this was a fight that was not only going to happen next time, but it was at the right time. time It was essentially the fight Fabio Wardley needed to raise his profile, and the test Fraser Clarke needed, having struggled to find worthy opponents in his first six pro fights. Of course, there was some risk involved for both, but it was a risk they decided was worth the ultimate reward, the British heavyweight crown.

That the fight then failed to materialize was a huge disappointment to those who knew why, as well as those who just wanted something to shout about. Apparently, while they all have their own explanations, it all boils down to a timing issue. It had nothing to do with the potential boxing opportunity of the Sky Sports celebrity fighter on an opponent’s platform, nor was it anything to do with either boxer being “scared” in the traditional, human sense. Rather, when it’s all said and done, the reason this fight isn’t happening, according to Clarke’s team, is that Clarke, 6-0 (5), isn’t ready to jump 12 rounds for the Brit. heavyweight title.

That’s a good excuse, by the way. It’s a shame we have to take the scenic route to get there. Because if that had been clear from the beginning, around the time Clark got the mandate and this fight started to grow wings, maybe it would have been easier to buy into and understand and see as a perfectly valid reason why maybe the timing wasn’t quite right for him. :

Of course, despite Clarke’s rich amateur background, it’s obvious why his team would be somewhat reluctant to drop him in a 12-round contest, having only gone six rounds as a pro so far. Given their presumably healthy investment in him, you want a little more assurance when leveling up, especially when the reward at the end of it is only, with all due respect, a British title. In other words, it’s one thing to lose a world heavyweight title fight after a calculated match; something a fighter can rebuild from. But now, at the level of the British titles, a disorientation would be a disaster for Clarke, especially given his relatively late start in the professional game.

Naturally, it’s a point Wardley, 16-0 (15), and his team will offer just as Clark required struggle at this stage in his career. They will say that he doesn’t have time on his side, and therefore can’t be overly concerned with getting his timing right when it comes to choosing moves and opponents. That view also has credibility.

But in the end, when the dust finally settles, it’s just another fight that may or may not happen. The world won’t stop if Fraser Clarke and Fabio Wardley share a ring one day, and conversely none of us will end up on our deathbed citing our inability to do so as one of life’s great regrets. In some ways, the fight itself, given their relative inexperience and the fact that they didn’t come up with anything good as a positive, was just a product of social media’s messy and unwarranted hyperbole, which has a knack for harvesting, as well as the fighters’ misguided belief. and advertisers that they always have to say or tweet something when the best option is usually to just shut up and turn off their phone for a while. A perfect storm, what we found as a result of this behavior was that the very thing that built the fight proved to be the very thing that ultimately brought it down. And there’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

Fraser Clarke (Lewis Story/Getty Images)

Speaking of classes, another heavyweight, Daniel Duboismust decide whether he has sat through enough of them to adequately prepare himself for the test at hand Alexander Usik later this year. It’s a heavyweight title fight for which purse bids will be called next Thursday (May 25) and it’s also a fight for which Dubois, Usyk’s WBA number one contender, will be training alongside Shane McGuigan.

This will no longer be the case, however, as McGuigan confirmed Boxing news yesterday Now, instead of McGuigan, Dubois will be led into battle, whether against Usyk or someone else, by Don Charles, who is synonymous with another British heavyweight, Derek Chisora.

“Obviously, I’m very happy and excited to inherit a fighter of his caliber,” Charles told Tris Dixon of proboxtv.com. “I don’t get that often from any promoter, but he’s found his way to me anyway, and I believe I’ll add to what he already brings to the table, and he already brings a lot to the table.

“He’s a very well-trained, high-level operator, and I’m going to add what it takes to get him over the line, especially with the tough job ahead.

“It would have been nice to have fought before facing a master boxer like Usik, but that’s how it is.

“It’s reminiscent of when Derek was booked to fight Wladimir Klitschko, who pulled out, and then Vitali Klitschko. It’s a daunting task, but I’m always up for a challenge, and I’m going to do my best to help Danielle try to do what many consider impossible. But my attitude is always that this person is a person and breathes oxygen, therefore we can do what we can do; the best we can do to dethrone him.’

At first, hearing the news that Dubois and McGuigan were parting ways seemed like somewhat of a get-out-of-jail-free card in the context of Dubois’ progress and immediate threat. That is, knowing that purse bids were coming soon for the Usyk fight, there was now no better way to avoid this dire prospect than to call for a backstage ruckus and ask for more time to both find a trainer and come to terms with that trainer. . During that potentially vital period, Dubois could work on improving in the gym and, better yet, win another fight or two, hopefully more meaningfully.

Because at this stage, regardless of the financial appeal of the Usyk fight, there’s little doubt, at least on paper, that Dubois is woefully unprepared for such an assignment. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that if it weren’t for the nonsensical WBA “regular” title that has accelerated his rise to prominence, this fight would never have been what anyone would have suggested for Dubois. In that sense, he was betrayed by the very belt that he values ​​so dearly. In that sense, he has become a symbol of how these small, “regular” belts can end up damaging not only the infrastructure of the sport, but also the health of the fighters who rush to capture them. everyone is blinded by how easy it is to win.

That doesn’t mean Dubois, 19-1 (18), isn’t powerful enough to trouble Usyk if they meet one day. That’s not to say he can’t shock the world and become the first man to beat the brilliant Ukrainian as a professional. But, obviously, we know about both, and based on what we’ve seen of Dubois’ recent fights, the image of Daniel Dubois sharing the ring with Alexander Usyk is hard to imagine, never mind the next one. a logical step in a career that, despite the title attached to it, is very early on. After all, Dubois is still only 25 years old. so young for heavyweights. He’s also someone who came close to being stopped in the first round by the unheralded Kevin Lerena in his last fight, and someone who had previously won his current title by defeating Trevor Bryant, a man who struggled to keep his balance. let’s not talk about the right fist inside a casino in miami.

To say that Dubois is in a bad mood for this opportunity would be an understatement. He is, and in every possible way. However, what is also true is that the Londoner, now separated from McGuigan, suddenly finds himself in this rarest and most precious position, blessed with the ability to simply say no and not be judged for it, or condemned for it, or labeled as a “bottle job”. , or “scared” or “feeble-minded”. Indeed, if he had followed that path, he would have been considered wise instead, especially in light of all the upheaval of late. He will be seen as playing the long game and prioritizing his career over what he took on at the disgraceful Don King event he was just getting paid for. He could, throwing away that belt and realizing he’s better off without it, might even stand, meaning he’s backing himself to reach the top at his own pace, rather than just panicking and cashing out.

Otherwise, it’s not so much a belt as the WBA title, but a ring; one she fumbled with a beautiful necklace until it began to tighten around her neck. It comes with a receipt, Dubois will be happy to know, but time is of the essence, as always. “There is no return after May 25,” it says.

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