Frank Warren interview: I didn’t get many in for my first fight and Dubois v Joyce will be in front of no one

Matt Majendie
·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Four decades on from his first fight as a promoter, Frank Warren sees direct parallels with his latest, the all-British heavyweight encounter between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce.

It was Otis Gordon versus Jerry Martin on December 1, 1980, at the Bloomsbury Centre Hotel, and, by Warren’s own admission, it wasn’t a great success.

“It feels like my career’s come full circle,” he said. “I didn’t get many in and lost a lot of money, while Dubois and Joyce will be in front of no spectators. It seems appropriate somehow!”

At 68, the Islington-born Warren remains one of boxing’s great survivors, and there is little evidence he is slowing down.

In Dubois, he has Britain’s most promising young heavyweight and also Tyson Fury, who he sees as becoming the first to unify the heavyweight division since Lennox Lewis.

In promotion terms, Eddie Hearn may be making the bigger noise with Matchroom but Warren is non-plussed.

“They come and go,” he said of his rival promoters. “There have been so many people say they’re the next big thing. There was Barry Hearn, and I saw him off. And now his boy’s doing what he does with Sky.

“But you can’t really go wrong with the Olympic gold medallist in London being British [Anthony Joshua]. It’s not like he’s bringing someone from nowhere.”

Despite being Britain’s leading two promoters, Hearn and Warren have yet to sit down for talks, a facet that looks certain to change in the wake of Fury and Joshua having agreed to a double-header in 2021.

“I’ve never met Eddie before, I’ve seen him but we’ve never had a conversation,” said Warren. “Well, he called me about a meeting and we had a brief 20second conversation to meet to talk about all the fights.

“He had a show on so he said after that, then he went on holiday and then he got Covid. If it happens, it happens but I’m not holding my breath. But if his man’s in the ring with mine, it will happen.”

Getty Images
Getty Images

While there appears to be a frostiness between the two, Warren said: “I don’t know him but some of things that he said I don’t like. I didn’t like it when he said if it wasn’t for him no one would know where boxing was happening right now. But that’s his promotion and it is what it is. I don’t like him and I don’t dislike him either.”

Warren insists he has no plans to hand over the reins to his sons just yet with 2021 potentially the most lucrative of his career with the duo of fights between Fury and Joshua as well as Dubois being built up to be the next big contender to the heavyweight titles.

“I never planned to get involved in boxing really,” he said. “But I still get a kick out of it, particularly the young talent like Daniel. All the cut and thrust outside the ring can become quite tiresome but it’s worth it for the excitement of fight night. Nothing beats it.”

Looking back on it, he finds it understandably impossible to pick a favourite fight but lists, among them, Ricky Hatton against Kostya Tszyu, Joe Calzaghe versus Jeff Lacy as well as Frank Bruno against Oliver McCall, and Nigel Benn’s fight against Gerald McLennan despite its tragic ending.

“I’ve always liked the underdog in particular but picking a favourite’s too difficult – there’s so many," he said

Of his favourite fighter to work with, Prince Naseem is the first to roll off the tongue: “In the early days, I loved working with him. He was really great fun.”

Frank Warren
Frank Warren

As for the hardest work, Calzaghe gets nominated. Warren explained: “Joe was a pain in the arse as he was pulling out of fights constantly getting injured. So, it was sometimes hard out of the ring but, once in there, he was a lion, unbeatable.”

In the 23-year-old Dubois, he believes he has helped to uncover the latest gem to the extent that he describes him as “the best young heavyweight that I’ve been involved with at this point of his career”.

He said: “He’s not just a big puncher but he can box as well. He does his talking in the ring. A couple of people said to me he doesn’t say a lot but nor did George Foreman.

“I think he’s the next contender, I really do think he’s got what he takes. He’s got the attitude, the discipline and the skills to go with it. He’s a big-punching heavyweight with a nice jab. The fighter with the best jab was Larry Holmes. If he keeps doing what he’s doing and he gets that jab to that standard, I think he will reign for a long time.”

Daniel Dubois v Joe Joyce on Saturday is exclusively live for BT Sport subscribers. Sign up to watch, contract free, with BT Sport Monthly Pass. For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass

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