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...

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE -

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-

MICHAEL STEELE

An­thony Joshua at a pub­lic work­out at St David’s Hall. In­set right, Do­rian Darch

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