Only two people have stopped Anthony Joshua and Solomon Dacres has beaten one of them. The new heavyweight has a date for his pro debut. He speaks to John Dennen
SOLOMON DACRES, formerly a super-heavyweight on the Great Britain squad, has turned professional. He will make his pro debut on March 20, on the undercard of Lawrence Okolie’s world title fight with Krzysztof Glowacki.
He won the England Boxing Elite championships well in 2017. That saw him earn a trial with GB and ultimately secure a place on the squad. He has had some good international victories, notably beating Romania’s Mihai Nistor over five rounds in the World Series of Boxing [above]. Nistor is one of only two boxers to have stopped unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
“He’s a solid guy, he’s one of them that’s really experienced on the scene. I think he was AIBA Pro world champion [another quasi pro format]. He was the number one at one point at that in the world,” Dacres said. “That’s like a pro fight really [over five rounds in the WSB]. I got a good win against him. The experience there from GB, I can’t fault the experience I’ve had.”
“I’ve got medals from tournaments all round. In terms of actual experience I’ve boxed the top guys in the world as well at all the tournaments,” he added. “I’ve got the experience internationally that I need really.”
Dacres was a successful rugby player before his switch to boxing. But once he had dedicated himself fully to boxing, his improvement as an amateur was quickly apparent. “I used to play rugby. From school I was academy level for Worcester Warriors, a premiership club. Coming out of college I was playing semi-professional rugby and I was mixing the two, boxing and rugby when I first started,” he explained. “I was training for both sports for about two years… Fighting on a Friday night with a rugby match on Saturday morning, my body was just broken really but I was giving it a go.
“Every opportunity I’ve just taken it. Willing to improve all the time, not ever thinking I’m any better than I am.
“It’s allowed me to keep stepping up levels and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
It was the nature of the individual sport that appealed to him. “I’m not afraid of hard work, I’ve got that grit about me. With boxing it’s more of an opportunity to change your circumstances, change my life, than rugby. Rugby, you’re in a team sport, sometimes you need all the stars to align just to make it to somewhere decent,” he said. “Relying on a team, relying on this, that and the other. You could be the best player on the team and still lose a game.”
“In boxing the opportunities are there if you put the work in and you get to that level, you will get there,” he continued. “Boxing, it was in my hands. I knew that you could change your life like so many other fighters. Chasing that dream of really making it. Make or break sort of thing. That opportunity, to take into my own hands what I wanted and I’ve always loved boxing anyway from a kid as well.”
In a similar way he’s taken his boxing career into own hands to turn pro. Frazer Clarke is GB Boxing’s first choice at 91&kgs for the rescheduled Olympic qualification event. Dacres didn’t want to wait to move forward himself.
“With the Olympics being postponed and the qualifiers as such, it’s a waiting game for something that might not even come to fruition for myself. I wasn’t going to the first qualifier and I could have waited an extra year and haven’t got a chance to qualify anyway. And the goal was to pro anyway. I was planning on turning [pro in 2020] with the Olympic cycle, seeing what happened with the Olympics and then turning over. In terms of actual time frame, it’s the same timeframe. It’s just with it being postponed I thought I don’t want to wait any longer for something that could be just a waste of time waiting anyway,” Solomon said. “The end goal for me was always turning pro anyway and getting cracking there. So it was the right time really.”
With amateur boxing being suspended for much of last year, Dacres is eager to compete. “Myself, like a lot of others, I haven’t boxed all of 2020. The key thing for fighters is being active,” he said. “The one good thing is that I’m not out with an injury while everyone else is boxing, everyone is in the same boat. But you’ve got that itch – I want to fight at the end of the day. Because that’s what I do.”