Daniel Dubois didn’t waste any more time after waiting nearly a year for this opportunity.
The heavy-handed Brit claimed the secondary version of the WBA heavyweight title, scoring a fourth-round knockout of Trevor Bryan in their Don King-distributed pay-per-view main event. Dubois floored Bryan with a left hook and right hand, forcing the stoppage at 1:58 of round four Saturday evening at Casino Miami Jai Alai in Miami, Florida.
“No disrespect to anyone, but Trevor’s ‘0’ had to go,” London’s Dubois said after registering his biggest win to date. “That’s just it.”
Dubois embraced the boos as he entered the ring for his second straight fight on this side of the Atlantic after a career spent entirely in the United Kingdom. It came in the adopted home region of Bryan, originally from Schenectady, New York but who is now based out of nearby Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not even the warm embrace of the sparse but passionate crowd on hand could will the American to victory or even be competitive at any point.
Dubois opened the bout working his jab before quickly finding a home for his right hand. Bryan was briefly wobbled in the first 30 seconds of the contest but managed to keep himself upright. Dubois approached with caution but able to control the action as Bryan refused to let hands go. A left hook forced Bryan to the ropes with a minute to go in the round, with Dubois remaining poised.
Dubois went back on the attack early in round two, smothering Bryan and landing right hands upstairs. Dubois also worked the fleshy midsection of Bryan, who landed his first significant punch of the fight with a long right hand in the final minute of the round. Dubois shook off the blow, coming back to connect with a jab and overhand right.
Action slowed in round three, as Bryan shut down his offense. Dubois cut off the ring and landed a double jab, followed by a right hand as Bryan circled the ring attempting to set a trap. Dubois remained calm, waiting for an opening that came in the form of a right hand that drove Bryan to the ropes. Dubois unloaded from there, connecting with left hooks and right hands as Bryan showed a sturdy chin while absorbing the series of heavy shots.
Bryan was in trouble once again midway through round four, as a left hook by Dubois sent the unbeaten American reeling into the ropes. Dubois continued to chip away until finally breaking down Bryan, landing a massive left hook and right hand that sent Bryan face first to the canvas. He tried in vain to beat the count but was unable to convince referee Bill Clancy that he was able to continue.
Bryan sees his secondary title reign come to a bitter close after just one title defense as he falls to 22-1 (15KOs). He was never in the fight, unlike in his interim title fight win over BJ Flores and WBA ‘World’ title fight victories over Bermane Stiverne and Jonathan Guidry.
Dubois was a different beast entirely, as shown in the ring on Saturday. The hulking Brit improves to 18-1 (17KOs), with the belt acquired now landing him as the WBA mandatory to unified WBA “Super”/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs).
It will be a long wait as Usyk has to rematch Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22KOs), which is likely to take place August 13 or August 20. After that, Joe Joyce—who knocked out Dubois in ten rounds in November 2020—is the WBO mandatory challenger in waiting.
The plan for now is for Dubois to return home.
“We’d love to go after someone in the U.K., someone like Dillian Whyte,” Shane McGuigan, Dubois’ trainer noted in calling for an all-British showdown with the still relevant heavyweight contender. “He has this belt, I think it’s going to draw him the big names. I think it’s only right for him to have these massive fights, these massive moments.”
It’s the stage that Dubois eyed following a breakthrough campaign in 2019 that saw him score five knockouts in as many fights. The pandemic stalled his momentum, returning with a quick knockout win in August 2020 before his eventual loss to Joyce in their November 2020 battle of unbeaten heavyweights from which he had to undergo surgery to repair a double fracture to his left eye socket.
Dubois returned with a pair of early knockout wins in 2021, a second-round stoppage of Bogdan Dinu to win the now-defunct interim WBA heavyweight title which positioned him for this very moment. In between came his U.S. debut, a first-round knockout of Joe Cusumano last August 29 in Cleveland.
A lengthy wait followed, though worth it both financially and in opportunity. Bryan’s Hall of Fame promoter Don King secured the rights to the fight with a massive bid of $3,116,001, outbidding Frank Warren—Dubois’ promoter and also a Hall of Famer—to bring the fight to South Florida where Don King Productions is headquartered.
Dubois carried out his mission of winning over the American audience but is ready to return to friendly faces and take on all comers.
“Bring ‘em all on,” noted Dubois. “Now I’m ready. This will set me up, I’m the instant mandatory from this.”
There is the possibility of Dubois having to face the winner of a title eliminator between Hughie Fury and Michael Hunter II. Nobody expects the WBA to carry through its title reduction policy to the heavyweight division, which will leave Dubois to possibly settle for the best of the rest before awaiting his shot at either the Usyk-Joshua winner or countryman and lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs).
Whatever the case, Dubois has rebounded from his lone career defeat to position himself where he always felt he belonged in the heavyweight mix.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox