Bashir on rebuilding Dubois: “The first fight with Emanuel (Steward), Wladimir (Klitschko) got knocked out”

BN: How do you reflect on the fight? 

JAB: I’ve been doing this for 55 years – it’s water under the bridge. It’s like beating a dead horse trying to argue about it.

BN: How close did Daniel Dubois come to executing what you’d prepared him to?

JAB: Seventy percent. He started falling apart after the altercation about the low blow. He started mentally falling apart. Dropping his hands; getting hit with the jab. Wasn’t staying outside the lead right foot of [Oleksandr] Usyk; staying right in a straight line; getting hit with the jab; clean right hands. Mentally he started falling apart.

BN: How do you reflect on the punch that put Oleksandr Usyk down?

JAB: It could have been considered as legal and it could have been considered as illegal, depending on who you ask. I can see the other side of the argument. Everybody has an agenda. I don’t want to lose a lot of sleep about it. “Don, move on to the next time. Learn from it.”

You get guys like that at 25 years old; when he gets to 30 and he’s still boxing he’ll look back on the time that he fought Oleksandr Usyk. “I learned a valuable lesson about dropping my hands; about counter-punching.” You live; you learn. I don’t want to lose no sleep about it, I know that.

What initially went through my mind was, “Oh shit, this is a body punch, but no, he’s claiming that it’s a low blow”, so it was confusion. Then the referee said, “No, it’s a low blow”. “Oh boy, this is not good”. And it wasn’t good for Daniel because mentally I think he kind of gave up a little bit; started falling apart. Started getting hit with good punches; backed up; standing in a straight line. He wasn’t getting outside that left hand; he stayed right on that line where he could throw the left hand. Exactly the thing that we taught him not to. He can’t let anger and emotion get in the way of progress. He’s got to stay cool and follow the game plan.

Don was talking to him [in the corner, between rounds], and Daniel was looking… Don said, “Hey – you listening to me?” He was even distracted then. He was looking out in space at the crowd; looking for his father. He was distracted. He always looks for his dad – even in training camp.

BN: Knowing Emanuel Steward as you did, what would he think of Dubois as a fighter?

JAB: Don was nice. Emanuel would say [adopts Steward’s voice], “What the fuck are you doing, man? Go get this mother fucker. Jump on the mother fucker. You’re letting the mother fucker go. You gotta jump on the mother fucker. You’re doing just enough to lose the god damn fight”.

He would have said that he’s raw; he’s got to be educated. Emanuel had a love affair with heavyweights – he’d have liked him. Look what he did with Lennox [Lewis] and Wladimir [Klitschko]. Remember, the first fight he had with Wladimir [against Lemon Brewster, in 2004], Wladimir got knocked out.

Fernando Vargas and Daniel Dubois remind me of each other in the sense that when Fernando Vargas won the IBF super welterweight title [in 1998] he ejected himself into the middle of a war zone. [Oscar] De La Hoya; Shane Mosley, and Felix Trinidad. So, he was ejected into a situation that he had no control over. “I’m the IBF champion; I’ve got to fight.” De La Hoya knocked him out, Trinidad knocked him out, and Shane Mosley beat the braces off of him, twice. Daniel was ejected into a situation where he have to fight. You gotta take the lumps and bumps, and you grow if you grow. It’s a grow-as-you-go situation. There’s no sense in him being down on himself, because of what happened – he’s got to look at the situation and learn from it. You gotta keep going.

Twenty years ago you had a beautiful light heavyweight. Mike Quarry – Jerry Quarry’s brother. He was a beautiful up-and-coming light heavyweight. But the change from – “We want money – instead of caring about nurturing this fighter, we want money”. So what they do? They put him in with what they thought was an old, used-up fighter, Bob Foster. Bob Foster knocks out young Mike Quarry. Sure, Quarry fought on after that, but he never did quite turn the corner as a fighter. He fought on, but he never became the champion, and he never quite had the confidence that he once had.

Another situation – John Mugabi. He was moving along just fine, but he got in with Marvin Hagler [in 1986]. He don’t need Hagler. Hagler’s an old man going. Let him go. Fuck him. Mugabi was a beast. But he got in with Hagler, he was never the same.

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