BOXERS generally like to stay on their feet. In the most significant bout of her career to date, Caroline Dubois kept hitting the deck. This was through no fault of her own and not through any particular punches Mira Potkonen was landing, but through the Finnish veteran’s irregular tactics, charging wildly into the young Londoner and flinging her to the canvas, crashing down on top of Dubois more often than not.

“We knew that’s exactly what she brings and in a way it’s not a terrible thing. We knew she wants to spoil, that’s how she wins most of her fights, she overwhelms people she roughs them up, she throws them on the ground, she punches them when the ref’s not looking, she whacks them with whatever she can whack them with if she can get away it. We knew that that’s her plan. When we sparred in Colorado we had a really good spar. I gave it to her and I knew she knew I was just as strong as her. I could give it to her just as she gives it to me. So we knew she’s going to bring something. So I wasn’t really surprised. Obviously it’s horrible when you’re in the ring and you get chucked to the floor, but it’s all part of the game and you’ve just got to be the bigger person, the better boxer and rise to the occasion. Don’t let what they’re doing interfere with what you’ve got to do. Stay focused on doing what you have to do. Box, box, move and win,” Dubois said. Which is precisely what she did.

It was a bout she had spent a year waiting for, after the cancellation of the qualifier in 2020. “I wasn’t really nervous at all leading up to it. I knew how good I was. I sparred her in Colorado and I knew how well I did. She knew how well I did so I wasn’t really nervous on that side of things. I was more scared of myself to be honest,” Dubois said. “Just before we were walking into the ring, I was thinking I’m not scared of her, I’m not scared of anything she brings, I’m scared of myself. I’m scared of getting in the ring and throwing everything down the drain. Because I know how good I can be. I know that if I get in the ring and perform at the best of my ability, I’ll beat anyone. I truly believe that. I was never really afraid of her or anybody else. I was more afraid of myself, letting the occasion get to me. Because that’s such a big factor. Letting [in] doubts and letting myself crumble under the pressure and if I did that, that’s where she’d have a chance and it would get close and it would get scrappy and I’d get out the ring kicking myself, living with this for the rest of my life because I threw it down the drain.

“The decision came out, I was just relieved. I was happy as well. I knew I was fighting her from last year, so there was all that building up. I was just happy it was over and I was on to the next one.”

It was a crucial victory. Not only did the 20-year-old beat a highly experienced World medallist, who’d eliminated Katie Taylor from the last Olympic Games, but she continued her advance through the Olympic qualifier in Paris last month. She had to recover physically and restore her composure to box again the next day and qualify. “It wasn’t that hard. This is what we’ve been training for our whole lives, since I was little kid watching London 2012, this is what I’ve been training for. No way I was going to let one tough, hard fight spoil that. This is my dream since then,” Dubois said.

Dubois has only lost twice in her life, with Ireland’s outstanding lightweight Kellie Harrington beating her most recently in the tournament final in France. Caroline will be fighting for her dream in Tokyo, but would happily mix a dose of revenge in too. “I would be so excited to meet her again in the ring. I definitely want to avenge that loss, I don’t even like to say the word loss. It’s very annoying. That’s a winner’s mentality,” she says. “I’ve been winning for a very long time and I want to get back to that. If I can get in the ring with her again, I’ll be throwing everything at her.”

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