'I’m a king slayer' – champion Dubois tells Joshua

Daniel Dubois described himself as the "king slayer" and promised to "train like a beast" for his world-title defence against Anthony Joshua.

The British heavyweights will fight for Dubois' IBF belt at a 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium on 21 September.

Dubois, 26, held the interim title and was elevated to world champion after Oleksandr Usyk vacated the belt.

"I’m aiming to be the best. AJ has been the king for a long time but on the night I need to be the king slayer," he said.

Joshua, 34, was as measured as always in his responses as the two Londoners came face-to-face at a news conference at Wembley's OVO Stadium on Wednesday.

"I've been having Dubois on my mind for a while and he’ll be on my mind for the next 12 weeks," Joshua – aiming to become a three-time world champion – said.

On Tuesday, Usyk – who held all four recognised world titles – announced he would vacate the IBF belt.

The Ukrainian is set to face Tyson Fury in a rematch in December and therefore unable to face mandatory challenger Dubois.

‘Training like beasts’ and a ‘pack of lions in the wild’

Pyrotechnics lit up the arena as Dubois, donning a waistcoat, and the comparatively casual Joshua in a t-shirt and joggers, made their entrance.

The record books may list Dubois as a world champion but he said he would rather have won the title in the ring when he beat Filip Hrgovic for the interim title on 1 June.

A win over Joshua, however, will earn the Londoner recognition among the boxing fraternity.

"I’m ready to let my fists do the talking. I’m 100% ready to go, focussed and to train like a beast," he said.

Joshua has earned four straight victories since losing to Usyk in 2022.

The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist is eight years older than his opponent, but dismissed any suggestion that could play a part in the outcome.

"I feel fresh. But I don't drink, I don't smoke, that's my only advice. Thank God I don’t get into antics outside of boxing," he said.

While bouts against Fury and Deontay Wilder have not yet materialised, Joshua said Dubois has always been on his radar.

"I know the game, we're in the wild, we're a pack of lions," he said. "I can't just focus on them two I’ve got to keep my eyes peeled."

Anthony Joshua faces off with Daniel Dubois
Joshua and Dubois are both knockout punchers with 45 stoppages between them [PA Media]

Big-time boxing returns to Wembley Stadium

The big players in British boxing took to the stage as former foes Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn were joined by fellow promoters Ben Shalom of Boxxer and Wasserman chief Kalle Sauerland.

"This is probably the most stacked card in British boxing history," Queensberry's Warren said, while Matchroom’s Hearn described it as the "biggest night" the sport has ever seen in the country.

Joshua and Dubois will compete on home territory after back-to-back wins for both men in Saudi Arabia.

The card is still being funded by the energy-rich kingdom, with Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia's general entertainment authority, the man credited for making it happen.

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily to become the home of big-time boxing, but critics argue it has been done to deflect attention from a poor human rights record.

Analysis – a passing of the torch or will star AJ move closer to undisputed dream?

Anthony Joshua laughs during a news conference
Joshua has held the IBF title twice in his pro career [PA Media]

The news conference has been in the planning for a few weeks, yet media only received confirmation of the event at 19:20 BST on Tuesday.

Despite the late notice, there was a huge turnout: testament to the card, lure of Joshua and an all-British heavyweight world title fight.

Undercard fighter Liam Smith – a former world champion – said he had been dreaming of one day fighting on an 'AJ' card at Wembley Stadium. Middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz called it an honour.

It was a cordial affair, as expected. Trash talking does not come naturally to the reserved Dubois, although there were reports the two heavyweights clashed verbally during filming before the news conference.

At the top table, they let in-ring performances do the talking. Joshua boasts 25 knockouts in 28 wins and Dubois has stopped 20 opponents in 21 victories.

"Do not blink," promoter Frank Warren advised fans.

Joshua and Fury will not be around forever. Dubois is a seasoned campaigner despite his age, and a win for the Londoner in September could be considered a passing of the torch.

But Joshua is used to being the star attraction; the pressure is nothing new, yet he is fully aware a win over Dubois will set him up to face the winner of Usyk-Fury and achieve his undisputed dream.

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