My fight with champ Joshua
Back in 2014, Welsh engineer Dorian Darch faced heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua in just his fourth professional bout. Here, he tells Ben James his memories of that evening...
CWMBACH heavyweight boxer Dorian Darch has relived the moment he stepped into the ring with current world champion Anthony Joshua.
LAST Saturday Dorian Darch, after enjoying a pleasant steak dinner with his wife, made his way over to the Principality Stadium to watch heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua.
In that regard, apart from dinner arrangements, perhaps, he was no different from any of the 70,000-odd crowd who watched Joshua’s bout with Frenchman Carlos Takam.
Except he most certainly was.
Because three years ago Darch was stepping into the ring with “AJ”, rather than watching him.
In February of 2014, he faced Joshua in just his fourth professional bout at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
But this time the 33-year-old swapped his boxing gloves for a steak – despite some rumours that he might be on the undercard.
“I saw a lot of people saying I’m fighting!” exclaimed the Aberdare boxer.
“It said on BoxRec that I was meant to be fighting David Allen but, trust me, there’s no way that was happening!
“I’ve got tickets so I’ll be watching this one from the stands.”
Darch has had his big night with Joshua and seems content to be just a spectator this time around.
After all, his one experience against the world’s best heavyweight is almost reminiscent, certainly before the bout, of Sylvester Stallone’s boxing classic Rocky.
In 2014, he was working as a civil engineer when the chance to face superstar-in-the-making Joshua in the ring came his way.
To his credit, Darch had won seven of his nine fights after turning professional in 2011, but the prospect of facing the 2012 Olympic superheavyweight gold medallist was a completely new frontier.
He went from selling tickets to his mates to a shot at the next big thing in British – and world – boxing.
At the time, he said: “I’ve got my limitations and I know I’m never going to be world champion, I also know Joshua is a huge guy and he’s probably going to be too big for me.
“But you never know, I could hit him on the button and my world can change. I won my first six fights, but I was fed up hassling my mates to buy tickets.
“I could sell 130, but it’s hard as a heavyweight getting fights in Wales, so I told my manager [Steve Sims] that I was happy to go on the road, earn some money and take some risks.
“To be fair, he’s come up with the Joshua fight and it’s a massive opportunity for me.”
The preparation was far from ideal for Darch, with the initial fight in October 2013 being pushed back due to back injury to Joshua. His compensation for the cancellation was £1,000, in addition to the £5,000 he earned for the bout – a far cry from the millions Takam will have earned for stepping into the ring with Joshua.
“I had taken two weeks off work to train in October and in the second week I got told it was cancelled. In fairness, I wouldn’t have beaten him with 25 hours of training a day!”
And given how his training schedule paled in comparison with his illustrious opponent, it’s easy to see the sincerity in that throwaway line.
While Joshua would have been fully committed to getting himself in the best possible shape for the bout, Darch was busy juggling a full-time job in Bristol and a nine-monthold baby.
“I’m a civil engineer so I didn’t have a lot of time for training – my preparation would be an hour at the gym after work three nights a week.
“At the time my baby’s bedtime was 8.15pm so I had to have everything done by then!”
If the difference in preparation had not been an indication of the mismatch, then the first time meeting Joshua – and all the press circus that followed him – acted as a wake-up call for the engineer.
Darch had never done any press before, let alone anything to this scale, with his previous experiences having comprised “just a quick weigh-in” with very little interest.
“This was completely different,” adds Darch.
The experience also left him questioning whether he really knew the meas-
Anthony Joshua at a public workout at St David’s Hall. Inset right, Dorian Darch