Following Daniel Dubois’ destruction of Trevor Bryan, Declan Taylor looks back on a strange week in Miami and a promotion redolent of a Monty Python sketch
A LITTLE under three hours before Daniel Dubois set about Trevor Bryan in an ageing Miami casino, his trainer Shane McGuigan stood outside the front door of the fight hotel scrolling through his phone.
“The promoters didn’t send a car for us,” he said. “So I’ve booked us an Uber.”
Him and his fighter, as well as father Barry and assistant Josh Pritchard, quietly climbed into the vehicle and set off for the venue, a darkened room used for gambling on a sport called Jai Alai.
Inside the hall, two men loitered a few feet from ringside with mops and buckets. Heavy rainfall for the past fortnight had taken a toll on the roof and as late as Thursday a huge leak was soaking the spot which would become exactly centre ring. Their job, it turned out, was to stem a steady flow of water which appeared to be emanating from beneath the stage.
The decision to hold a fight 10 days inside Miami’s hurricane season seemed like a strange one. But then again ‘strange’ is exactly how both Dubois and McGuigan would later describe their experience of this promotion titled The Fight for Freedom and Peace.
Don King, of course, was behind it having beaten Frank Warren’s offer by more than $600,000 in their March purse bid by pledging $3,116,001 – a genuinely staggering offer considering he had no TV deal for the fight or, as it turned out, any chance of selling more than about 600 tickets. The iconic promoter had instead used the opportunity to regularly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, whose national anthem was played before the main event here.
Team Dubois had been holed up in the fight hotel for two weeks in order to acclimatise properly – and it was a highly eventful fortnight. One evening McGuigan even had to administer CPR to a fellow guest who had passed out in the lobby but then later died in the ambulance which took him to hospital.
Elevators were regularly getting stuck, requiring the fire department to attend and free those unfortunate enough to get trapped inside. Then, during one of the particularly violent daily thunderstorms, a tree came down in the car park narrowly missing a car containing one of the strength and conditioning coaches staying at the hotel.
Dubois had said during fight week he had spent most of his time hanging out in his room ‘getting mad’. It was the sort of place which could drive anyone up the wall given enough time.
Indeed you could have been forgiven for questioning your own sanity during Wednesday’s final press conference, which went on for nearly two hours and referenced, among many other topics, incest.
Trevor Bryan had played his part too, attempting to get under Dubois’ skin by regularly reminding him of the bloody finale of his fight with Joe Joyce. He even laboured that point at Friday’s weigh-in by producing two packets of sanitary towels in what must be the least funny stunt since the publication of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules in 1867. It is also worth pointing out at this point that the weigh-in started 45 minutes late because it appeared as though somebody forgot the scales altogether.
But amid the chaos, Dubois did not lose an ounce of composure. Even after standing through three national anthems and lengthy introductions before the opening bell, Dubois got straight to business.
It was a bizarre atmosphere inside the hall, with only around 600 people present. Half of those were in the seats on the floor while the others sat around circular tables on the raised stage where the now-almost defunct racket sport Jai Alai would normally be played. King, who sat through every minute of every fight, was among them.
Carl Frampton, who was doing commentary for BT Sport in the UK, suggested that the event looked like a fight night staged by Monty Python. That seemed like something of an insult to the Flying Circus.
In the ring, Dubois did not seem in a rush, using the jab methodically and shaking off any nerves. Bryan, meanwhile, seemed to be taking the Fight for Freedom and Peace a bit too literally by throwing basically nothing.
The undefeated American had some success in round two but it was doing little to knock Dubois out of his rhythm and, as it turned out, the third was a big one for the Londoner. He started to vary his work, switching attack from head to body and made a break through with an uppercut moments before the bell.
From there, the writing was on the wall and Dubois got another highlight reel knockout after 1:58 of the fourth. It was the left hook which did the damage, scrambling Bryan’s senses and the scuffing right hand which followed only served to speed up his descent to the canvas. The heavyweight landed flat on his face. Referee William Clancy started his count but quickly dispensed of it after realising how much trouble Bryan was in.
“It was all just an experience,” Dubois said later. “Beforehand my dad had told me just to use it all as a learning experience, that’s exactly what it turned out to be.
“It was fun, it was good, it just felt quite funny doing some business with Don King. We don’t know how much longer Don King has left but it was great to finally meet him and do some business.”
As usual, Dubois’ dad Dave as well as sister Caroline were ringside barking orders at their 6ft 5in family member. Within 20 seconds, his dad was instructing Dubois to ‘put it on him’.
“I could hear that loud and clear and I just thought to myself, OK, let’s put it on him,” Dubois added.
“I was just thinking, Right, what’s he got that I haven’t seen before? I went out there and sorted it all out.
“What did he have? Really it wasn’t about what he had but about what I’ve got and I put it right on him. This was always just a stepping stone and now I’ve climbed over the hurdle. No disrespect to Trevor but his 0 had to go.
“He took some big punches. I’m glad that he got himself in shape for this fight. As you go through the levels everyone gets tougher and harder to get rid of and I know that. But I’ll also get better from this.”
He will have to, because far tougher tests lie in wait. McGuigan immediately suggested Dillian Whyte as an appropriate next opponent.
“That is not meant in any way disrespectful to Dillian,” McGuigan said. “Dillian has only lost to elite guys in AJ, Fury and Povetkin, who he got rematch revenge over.
“Dillian is a very good fighter, I am not sure if he could fight Daniel next because you usually can’t fight for a title on the back of a loss.
“We’ll see what happens there but it would be a huge step-up for him and it would be a huge one and I think it would sell out any arena we took it to. It would create a lot of interest because a lot of people will think he isn’t ready for it.
“We need to target a really credible name and ideally someone that has been selling out PPV shows and Dillian has consistently done that.”
Asked for his assessment of their time in Miami, McGuigan added: “I can’t knock Don King because he has been there and done everything, it would be very disrespectful for me to call it a shambles.
“But for me it was different and was not made as relevant as it should have been. We’re in 2022 and everything screamed of old age, there was no real atmosphere or promotion. But hopefully it will be just another experience to add to Dan’s armoury.
“He has endured a loss and had some great wins, he was surrounded by this hype about dropping Anthony Joshua [in sparring] when he first turned pro. He has had everyone all over him and, after the Joyce loss, it probably seemed like everyone was hating him.
“He is only 24-years-old yet he has experienced highs and lows very few people will experience in their entire lifetime. He seems much more mature and settled now and his future performances will reflect that.”
Unusually the main event went off at around 6:30pm local time in order to provide a more accessible time for UK viewers which meant the fight came midway through an eight-fight card.
The best contest of the night came between Florida cruiserweights Johnnie Langston and Isaiah Thompson. The pair engaged in a genuine Jai-Alai hall classic which contained some scarcely believable action in the later rounds. After all was said and done, Langston nicked a split decision after 10.
In what was billed as the co-main event, prospect Dacarree Scott was knocked out by Jonathan Guidry, whose last fight was a split decision loss to Bryan. The short, rotund Scott had been boxing well but ran out of steam allowing Guidry to takeover in the seventh of 10 with the chilling full stop provided after 2:01.
In fact it was a card full of stoppages with all but two of the contests ending inside the distance.
New York’s ‘Trigger’ Tre’Sean Wiggins got the job done earliest, despatching Fort Lauderdale’s Travis Castellon after just 127 seconds. Elsewhere promising Cuban Raynel Mederos moved to 7-0 with a classy performance which resulted in the stoppage of Ryan Wilson after 1:20 of the second of their six threes.
In a bizarre fight, which came immediately after Dubois-Bryan, former Badou Jack opponent Dervin Colina was disqualified by referee Samuel Burgos after 1:31 of round four for ‘repeated fouls’ in his fight against Cairo-born Florida resident Ahmed Elbiali, ‘The American Pharoah’.
Colina, who was deducted two points in his fight with Jack last year, was holding, headbutting and generally making a mess of the action wherever possible. When the decision was announced, a handful of the remaining people in the hall booed but most of them weren’t watching. It was scheduled for 10.
Puerto Rico puncher Luis Rodriguez, meanwhile, maintained his perfect start to life as a professional by chalking up his ninth inside-distance win out of nine. The end for Ryan Adams came after 2:26 of the third in a bout that was scheduled for six.
In the very first fight of the night, Ian Green beat Anthony Lenk over 10. New Jersey man Green, whose waistband read ‘RIP MOM’ on the back of his waistband and ‘RIP DAD’ on the back, was awarded a unanimous decision against his New York opponent.
Verdict: Mad week, mad fight night, but ice-cool Dubois barely noticed.
RESULTS: Daniel Dubois (241 1/2lbs/17st 3 1/2lbs), 18-1 (17), w tko 4, Trevor Bryan (259 1/2lbs/18st 7 1/2lbs), 22-1 (15); Jonathan Guidry (257 3/4lbs/18st 5 3/4lbs), 18-1-2 (11), w ko 7 Dacarree Scott (253 1/4lbs/18st 1 1/4lbs), 7-1 (6); Johnnie Langston (200lbs/14st 4lbs), 11-4 (4), w pts 10, Isaiah Thompson (191 1/4lbs/13st 9 1/4lbs), 6-2-1 (5); Ahmed Elbiali (174 1/4lbs/12st 6 1/4lbs), 22-1 (19), w dq 4, Dervin Colina (174lbs/12st 6lbs), 16-2 (14); Luis Rodriguez (167 1/4lbs/11st 13 1/4lbs), 9-0 (9), w rsf 3, Ryan Adams (166 3/4lbs/11st 12 3/4lbs), 8-6-1 (6); Raynel Mederos (141 3/4lbs/10st 1 3/4lbs), 7-0 (2), w rsf 2, Ryan Wilson (142 1/2lbs/10st 2 1/2lbs), 1-1 (1); Tre’Sean Wiggins (146 1/4lbs/10st 6 1/4lbs), 14-5-3 (8), w rsf 1, Travis Castellon (146 3/4lbs/10st 6 3/4lbs), 17-4-1 (12); Ian Green (159lbs/11st 5lbs), 16-2 (11), w pts 10, Anthony Lenk (159lbs/11st 5lbs), 17-9 (7).