It’s been almost 12 months since the British and Commonwealth belts were put on the line, with Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce going toe-to-toe in London. Although Dubois was the pre-fight favorite, he was stunned in the 10th round by a ferocious Joe Joyce stoppage, with Dubois struggling with his eyesight. As yet, Joyce hasn’t defended his British heavyweight crown and he may choose to vacate the belt without a defence if he can land a big world title fight. If not, there are plenty of contenders breathing down his neck for a shot at stardom in the months ahead.
The story of Fabio Wardley is one of the most fascinating boxing tales in recent years. The Suffolk star has risen quickly through the British heavyweight ranks and was recently listed as the 28th best heavyweight in the world rankings. Wardley’s route into boxing was far from conventional. He dabbled in the sport by entering White Collar boxing events and soon discovered his natural aptitude.
He has since turned professional and operates as part of Dillian Whyte’s stable of boxers. Thus far, none of Wardley’s fights have gone the distance. The Ipswich-born ace hasn’t even needed to win by unanimous decision which, in boxing betting terms, is often a market offered to punters to wager on a fighter to win all three judges’ votes. In this instance, those who have wagered on Wardley to win by unanimous decision will have lost their bets, with those betting on knockouts and stoppages proving successful.
Last summer, Wardley comfortably secured the English heavyweight title belt by stopping the experienced Simon Vallily in the third round. Since then, he has despatched seasoned professionals like Richard Lartey and even two-time world heavyweight title challenger Eric Molina. A heads-up clash with Joe Joyce would seem to be the next big hurdle for Wardley to try and overcome.
After a recent statement victory over Bogdan Dinu, Dubois declared a rematch with Joyce would be on the cards, particularly given the surprise nature of the loss. Dubois’ eye injury played havoc with him in the ring, but equally it called into question his durability as a heavyweight. Joyce has consistently avoided Dubois’ calls for a rematch, insisting he has bigger fish to fry. A cynic would say that Joyce may fear his first win was somewhat fortuitous and would not want to risk a defeat, which would prove a major hurdle to secure a big fight with Britain’s fourth-ranked heavyweight Dereck Chisora.
Joyce is now the number-one contender for the WBO world heavyweight title after his most recent victory over Carlos Takam. That belt is currently held by Oleksandr Usyk, who claimed his title following victory over Anthony Joshua. With Joshua and Usyk set for a rematch and Tyson Fury also keen to box the top candidate from this match-up, Joyce may have to accept a rematch call from Dubois to cement himself as a major contender for a big-money fight.
Nantwich-born boxer Nathan Gorman is another who could mount a serious push for the British heavyweight title against Joe Joyce. Gorman sustained his only professional loss against Daniel Dubois, but Gorman still has potential to become a British champion. He defeated Richard Lartey on points and stopped Pavel Sour, flooring the Czech fighter no less than five times during the bout.
Since his defeat to Dubois, Gorman has taken a different direction outside of the ring. He split with trainer Ricky Hatton and opted to retrain with Nathan Clarke who trained Gorman during his amateur boxing days. Gorman’s new strength and conditioning regime is beginning to reap its rewards despite admitting he will never be a heavyweight who “is ripped to death”.
If Joyce does vacate the Lonsdale belt without a defence of his title, Fabio Wardley and Nathan Gorman would be the most likely match-up for the next British heavyweight title fight. Looking at the world heavyweight ratings on BoxRec, Wardley is currently number 40 in the world, while Gorman is number 44 in the world. Although Dubois is number 22, his failed shot at the Lonsdale belt could let Wardley and Gorman in.