In the cafe of one of London’s most famous boxing gyms, the Peacock, Daniel Dubois finally emerges from his gruelling gym session. Trainer Martin Bowers has put him through his paces, and just a few minutes ago the young heavyweight was dripping in sweat.
Now, his raincoat is zipped right up to his Adam’s apple and his backpack is positioned over his shoulder; the 22-year-old is ready to head home, but instead Bowers guides him to a quiet corner in the busy cafe for a few interviews.
Dubois is headlining at the Royal Albert Hall this Friday. It is the second time the rising star has topped the bill at the iconic venue. Frank Bruno, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis – the Royal Albert Hall has housed some of the greatest heavyweights of the last century.
Having turned pro at 19, Dubois has always attracted interest. At 6ft 4in, Dubois is a towering presence, even when sat at a round table. Behind Dubois is the entrance to the gym flanked by two signs which read, ‘No children beyond this point except for classes’ in six different languages. Dotted around the cafe is pictures of notable boxers and celebrities who have stopped by down the years. Orlando Bloom, Jason Statham – even Stephen Fry.
Unbeaten Ghanaian Ebenezer Tetteh is the next man tasked with trying to halt Dubois’ ascent towards a world title bid. Tetteh, like Nathan Gorman before him, has tried hard to get under Dubois’ skin, however taunts of being a ‘scared boy’ have not rattled the Brit.
‘It’s all fight talk. He says that to get himself up for it,’ he told Metro.co.uk.
‘No fighter will ever get under my skin. There’s no chance of that happening. I’ve been in this game for far too long to fall for that. I pretty much know when people are talking rubbish and when they’re serious. It’s common in boxing, rubbish.’
The taunts perhaps don’t hit home because Dubois doesn’t make time for anything else expect boxing. A kind of pugilist monk, Dubois doesn’t have a TV. His social media accounts are run by his team. He doesn’t have a smart phone. The burner phone he does have rings while we’re speaking.
It is his father wondering what time he’ll be out. Dave Dubois was the man who first put his son in the gym. Dubois’ siblings are also in boxing; sister Caroline is a favourite for a gold medal at Tokyo 2020 and younger brother Prince is emerging as another talent in the family.
Dubois chuckles when asked if his father is his own personal chauffeur. ‘He doesn’t pick me up everyday, but most days,’ he says.
‘I don’t have an iPhone or anything. There’s no TV. It’s so easy to become distracted.
‘I’ve got to take measured steps and avoid the pitfalls. Life in general has pitfalls, but being a boxer there’s even more.
‘I’ve tried to eradicate everything that could distract me. I don’t have other interests.
‘I switch off when I’m training, that’s my relaxation. I’m in my own world and I feel it’s where I’m in control. When I’m lining up my opponent for a haymaker, that’s when I feel in control.’
Dubois has certainly produced more than his fair share of haymakers in his short career. Only one of his 12 opponents, American journeyman Kevin Johnson, has avoided being left in a heap by Dubois.
But that was three fights ago and Dubois have improved massively since then. A fifth-round knockout of Nathan Gorman last July proved Dubois was a level above even his closest rivals.
The victory over Gorman boosted Dubois’ profile again. He’s had two photo opportunities with heavyweight legend Bruno this year, the most recent at Dale Youth boxing club where Dubois spent his formative years as a boxer.
Dubois has drawn comparisons with Bruno. His promoter, Frank Warren, wants Dubois to make the Royal Albert Hall his stomping ground, like Bruno did.
‘That doesn’t concern me really,’ Dubois said of the comparisons. ‘As long as I’m winning, everything else will take care of itself.’
As Dubois’ stock rises, so will the number of people circling around him.
‘I’ve come to expect everyone wants a piece of me in this game,’ he said. ‘We’re always under the lights even when we’re not in the ring.
‘Someone is always watching. I relish being under the spotlight, to be known as a great boxer. As long as I’m known for being a good boxer, I’m happy.’
The Commonwealth belt will be on the line when Dubois takes on Tetteh. He won the British title when he beat Gorman and is aiming to collect every belt available to him before his first world title tilt, which is not expected to come before 2021.
Warren and BT Sport’s great heavyweight hopes are pinned on the still very young man. Dubois’ last two fights have generated two million combined views on BT Sport’s Youtube channel. Not that Dubois likes to watch back his triumphs, the boxing monk only looks forward.
‘I don’t really watch my fights back or the knockouts,’ he said. ‘The memories are there. I’m the one doing it, I can relive it in the back of my mind.
‘I’ll go for the knockout from the first bell against Tetteh. I only have one thought, seek and destroy, kill or be killed.’
Tickets for Dubois v Tetteh at the Royal Albert Hall on September 27 are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk