DAVE COLDWELL on Dubois quitting, Wilder and boxing highlights in 2020

Dubois DID quit but where’s the crime in that? YouTubers boxing is an accident waiting to happen and Wilder’s excuses are a worry – after a VERY different year, DAVE COLDWELL picks his highlights, tackles the big talking points and looks ahead to 2021

  • Boxing rolled with the punches to deliver some great fights and plenty of drama 
  • In an end-of-the-year special column, Dave Coldwell breaks down the year 
  • He talks Daniel Dubois, Deontay Wilder, YouTubers and the return of legends
  • Coldwell also looks ahead to 2021 and picks out his dream fights and prospects  

In his second Sportsmail column, highly-respected boxing trainer and pundit Dave Coldwell reflects on the best moments from 2020, tackles the big talking points and looks ahead to next year.

Yes, Dubois DID quit but why should he be vilified for it? 

There’s been a lot of unfair criticism of Daniel Dubois for quitting against Joe Joyce.   

Admittedly, you’d be hard pressed to argue that Dubois didn’t quit because that’s what he did. To quit is to give up and to give up is to make a decision to stop. Did he choose to stop fighting? Yes. But why is there no excusing that?

I don’t agree that he deserved to be hounded and vilified the way he was. There’s more to life than just boxing.

Now I don’t for one second believe Dubois thought: “Oh I’ve broken my orbital bone,” he just thought: “S*** this hurts so bad.” And he took it for as long as he could until he couldn’t take anymore. 

I don’t think you can question his character. These things just come down to individuals and their pain thresholds and what they’re willing to sacrifice. 

Daniel Dubois made a decision to stop fighting during his battle with Joe Joyce last month

Fighters are human beings at the end of the day and they’ve all got limits they’re willing to go to. And Dubois’ was met in that fight.

I’ve seen Arthur Abraham and Ricky Burns have their jaws broken and carry on, and as a normal man you think how on earth can they cope with that sort of pain? How can you even think about going through that, having a jaw broken and then opting to continue getting punched in the face. It goes against all our instincts.

But that’s what they chose to do to pursue their dreams. It’s not their duty to us to keep fighting until they’ve taken sufficient punishment by everyone else’s estimation to stop.  

There’s other people who will carry on with a broken nose or hand but then would never go to the extreme of a broken jaw, there’s just different levels of pain thresholds and it comes down to what you’re willing and what you’re not willing to do. It doesn’t mean that you should be spoken of any less.

Some people are willing to get involved in a brutal war and not think about any set of consequences that comes after whereas others may be more mindful about their future. I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing? I’m sure if people put themselves in the shoes of a fighter, most would take the latter approach.

Dubois took some stick afterwards but he was in pain and there is more to life than boxing

I thought Andy Lee made a great point about MMA fighters tapping out recently too because when they choose to tap out they are quitting and yet you don’t see them pilloried like boxers. 

There’s definitely a stigma around the word that has been attached to boxing for many years because historically the sport has been participated by tough people who didn’t know the meaning of the word.

But attitudes have changed and boxing is not the be-all and end all. Fighters have a long life ahead of them after their careers are finished and I don’t believe in this mantra that they should give absolutely everything they’ve got to the game. 

Going back to Dubois, ultimately he made a decision for himself. Once the crowd stops roaring your name, they move on to somebody else but a fighter gets one crack at his career and life and has to do what’s best for him or herself.

Deontay Wilder’s heading down a scary path

Every excuse in the book and under the sun has been used by Deontay Wilder to try and explain his defeat against Tyson Fury.  

I get why people have poked fun at his expense because his reasonings are elaborate and far fetched, but I have actually been quite disturbed and concerned by what Wilder has come out with.

He needs someone to put their arm around him because he strikes me as someone who is really struggling. 

For some people a loss can completely ruin them because they can’t handle it mentally. I’ve seen it take people down a very scary path and it’s worrying to see where Wilder is heading.

I’ve found some of the excuses Deontay Wilder’s used for his defeat strange and troubling

Everything he has said, all the conspiracies he’s talked about, it doesn’t come from a stable mindset. I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt when he first claimed he lost because his ring costume was too heavy. 

That is bad enough but I think he may have pushed the panic button with that one.  

But to go on and throw accusations around that his trainer spiked his water and that Tyson had hid a weight in his glove, it’s concerning.

I have met Wilder several times and have always got on with him. We spent three weeks together when he was over at Hayemaker gym and whenever I’ve been in America we’ve spoken and had a good catch up.

For Wilder to learn and improve he needs to accept he lost to the better man in Tyson Fury

He’s a really nice bloke and I fear he is not in the right head space at the moment.

He’s had such a long time to process it and accept it but the wounds have clearly not healed. 

I 100 per cent can say I would not want to see him go into a third fight with Fury. He’s pointing the finger at everybody else rather than addressing what it was that he didn’t do well enough on the night.

That tells me he hasn’t gone away and tried to improve as a fighter. He’s not learned from the experience and for that reason I don’t believe the outcome could change.

The return of old legends is a danger to boxing’s future

I loved seeing Mike Tyson looking fit again and in great form on the pads but I wish he would just leave it at that.

It’s sad really and I don’t want the return of old legends becoming a trend. 

This getting punched in the head business is serious. We all know the dangers and when you get older, they are even greater. 

I didn’t watch Mike Tyson’s return and hope it won’t set a precedent for other legends to return

For Tyson, the exhibition with Roy Jones genuinely seems to have done wonders for him. He looks the happiest he’s been in a long time but I’m not sure that fighting at his age is healthy.

I stopped watching Tyson after he got knocked out by Danny Williams and in Jones’ case it was after his loss to Glen Johnson. I want to remember them for the fighters that they were. 

I understand that it was an exhibition and certain rules were in place but I really hope it won’t set a precedent. Already you’ve got people like Oscar De La Hoya flirting with the idea of fighting again and talking about taking on Gennady Golovkin. 

In this instance it just smacks of desperation and attention seeking and I pray that Golovkin won’t be foolish enough to lower himself to it.

Oscar De La Hoya needs to stop chasing attention and bin any plans to make a comeback

Oscar is someone who had a great career and then became a major promoter but nothing seems to be enough for him. He’s still chasing who he once was but that is no cause to let him fight again. 

You threaten the long-term future of boxing by allowing someone like Tyson or De La Hoya – who have been retired for a long time and aren’t getting any younger – step through the ropes again to compete.

Can you imagine what would happen if one of them had a serious injury and the ammunition that would give the ban-boxing brigades? They would have a field day. Even if you get a slight trauma to the brain, it’s basically Russian roulette. 

So I think it is not only dangerous but plain wrong to stand by and allow retired guys in their 50s to fight again. Even the exhibitions, I’m really not a fan of and hope they get left behind in 2020.

YouTubers fighting is an accident waiting to happen

I’m not quite sure what the thought process was when the decision was made to give YouTubers professional boxing licenses.

It seemed questionable at the time and it’s opened up the floodgates to what we’re seeing now where you’ve got this idiot Jake Paul calling out Conor McGregor and talking about you’re 0 and 1 as a boxer and he’s 2 and 0 as a boxer.

McGregor’s 0 and 1 was against one of the greatest fighters that’s ever lived. His 2 and 0 was against a YouTuber and a basketball player.

If YouTubers are continued to be allowed to fight professionally, I fear someone will get hurt

That shows you the level of brain cells this guy has got in understanding what boxing is about.

I didn’t see Jake Paul’s knock out of Nate Robinson but I heard it was quite distressing. I just think it’s a bit of a circus and an accident waiting to happen.

We’re talking about people with no fighting experience who aren’t even professional athletes in most cases.

Sticking them in the ring together and giving them a licence to punch each other in the head without any protective gear feels like a roll of the dice and I fear eventually someone will get hurt. 

Zepeda vs Baranchyk is my Fight of the Year 

This year has been a strange one but boxing has rolled with the punches and delivered some fantastic fights.

The one that stands out for me for entertainment factor was that absolute war between those two unlikely lads Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk. It was just a crazy fight.

I remember Bob Arum tweeted afterwards it was the best fight he’s seen live since George Foreman’s battle with Ron Lyle and he would’ve seen plenty of great brawls in his 54 years in the business, so that paints a picture of just how good it was. 

Both men kept getting bounced off the floor with eight knockdowns in five rounds and then when the end came it was devastating and conclusive. 

Without even thinking too much about who else has boxed this year, this has got to be fight of the year because it was such a spectacle.

Jose Zepeda v Ivan Baranchyk was a mad fight and the former’s finishing blow was devastating

Davis gets my vote for Knockout of the Year

Alexander Povetkin probably thought he had this one in the bag when he stunned Dillian Whyte with that brilliant uppercut. 

But just a week later Gervonta Davis produced a stunning one-punch knockout against Leo Santa Cruz – and I have to say that it was even better than Povetkin’s.

Like Povetkin, it was the uppercut that done the damage and the timing on it from Davis was perfect. 

Gervonta Davis produced a stunning knockout against Leo Santa Cruz earlier this year

Santa Cruz is at an elite-level and is a typical Mexican fighter with a resilient spirit and chin.

He’s been in with many heavy-handed fighters in the past and has never once been knocked out so for Davis to leave him unconscious with one shot just shows you the power he is carrying.  

I don’t think any super featherweight in the world would have been standing after taking that punch flush. It was certainly one for the highlight reel.

Look out for Ortiz and Price in 2021

On a world level I would have to say Vergil Ortiz Jr.

There’s so much to like about the kid and I can see him having his breakthrough in 2021.

He’s young, hungry, heavy handed, skillful and the world really is his oyster.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about him possibly fighting Terence Crawford next. I’m not so sure I would advise him taking that fight just yet but it’s definitely one he’s capable of winning down the line.

Vergil Ortiz Jr (left) is set for big things in 2021 and has the potential to win a world title

No one has lasted the distance with him yet and I’m convinced he’ll be a world champion by the end of next year. 

On a British level, I know people will say I’m bias but I’ve got the best coming through in Hopey Price.

He’s definitely one to look out for and is going to have a big year in 2021. He won gold at the junior Olympics and has already boxed on undercards for Anthony Joshua and Anthony Crolla and fought at Fight Camp.  

He’s got the best attitude I have ever worked with and has got all the physical attributes, the skills, he just ticks every single box and he’s only 20 years old. 

I truly believe this kid is going to be the real deal. 

On the domestic scene Hopey Price is one of the most exciting emerging talents

The big fights we MUST see next year

Out of fear of being overly obvious, I won’t put Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua down as one of my picks – though of course it is a fight that has to happen next year.

For me the next biggest fight out there that I desperately want to see is Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford. 

I would travel across the pond to go and see that. I know it’s a fight that has been in the works for some time but there seems to be a lot of back and forth about who’s the A-side and who’s the B-side.

There aren’t any better fighters than these two at 147lbs, it’s the best against the best and for the fans’ sake I really hope they can come to a compromise to meet in 2021.

The biggest fight outside of Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury is Terence Crawford v Errol Spence

Another fight I’d love to see is Vasyl Lomachenko vs Gervonta Davis.

I think that fight has a great narrative and all the hallmarks for a classic. You’ve got the silky and experienced boxer against a young and powerful upstart. 

That fight could happen at super-featherweight or lightweight if Davis decided to move up. 

There’s so many other fights I’d want to see at lightweight – that division is on fire at the minute.  

I would love to see Vasyl Lomachenko (right) fight Gervonta Davis at super-featherweight

I’d want to see Teofimo Lopez against Devin Haney or either of them against Davis. I’m looking forward to seeing Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell as well.

I fancy Campbell to win that one but if Garcia beats him you’d have to consider him as a real threat at lightweight so I’m hoping we can see that division cleared up next year.

The other fight I hope can get made is Dmitry Bivol against Artur Beterbiev.

They are both champions with unbeaten records and it has the potential to be a very entertaining fight.

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