Daniel Dubois will have learned more in his gilt edged opportunity to challenge defending unified heavyweight champion Oleksander Usyk than in his 18 knock out wins, on a night of Ukrainian pageantry, Usyk’s belt line, flashes of clinical boxing and Dubois’ knees, in Wroclaw’s Stadium in Poland on Saturday night.
The second of the knees taken came in round nine, following a short, jolting right jab Dubois’ had taken to his reddened mush and saw the young fighter rise from the canvas blinking and done just before the count of ten, to see the fight waved off by referee Luis Pabon.
The script was written for this fight way before fight night and it is was a simple one. Oleksander Usyk was always expected to out-think, out-work, out-tough and then win wide or by late stoppage on the back of breaking his inexperienced opponent’s will and heart.
Along the way, we did also expect the much younger fighter, who carries some real artillery to chase the champion around a little, keep him on his toes with the threat of his power early on and target that breadbasket, which many feel is the Ukrainian’s Achilles.
This is exactly what happened through rounds 1 – 4 and 6 – 9 when the stoppage came with Dubois thoroughly schooled and ruled. In the middle of that though, came the fifth round. So, let’s make some notes in the margin of that script.
Much has been said about Usyk’s body being an area of possible weakness, largely based on Artur Beterbiev dropping the Ukranian with one to the body in their World Boxing Championships quarterfinal in Baku, Azerbaijan back in 2011. Usyk got up to win that one by the way.
It is also fair to say that Anthony Joshua may have stung him around the midriff and ribs in their Saudi Arabian rematch, so the Dubois strategy to bang in some big old bombs down there was a no brainer. And he did from the off. He also got several warnings from referee Pabon from near the off about keeping them up too.
At 34 seconds of the fifth round Dubois landed what he and his team describe as a great body shot and Usyk and his team describe as a low blow. To the letter of the law, it was a clear low blow. It not only landed below the navel but below the belt line, landing to the lower abdomen, bladder area which the protector covers for obvious reasons.
Usyk’s reaction was not the delayed reaction of a true body shot but one of urological agony which was immediately recognised by Luis Pabon who called it a low blow and encouraged the Ukrainian to take the full five minutes recovery time, which he pretty much did.
Action resumes. Fight script is seen out as written. That’s a wrap. In the aftermath, Daniel Dubois has called for a rematch. His head trainer, Don Charles, has called Oleksader Usyk a cheat. And his promoter, Frank Warren, will be making various calls to lodge an official appeal in pursuit of a no contest and immediate rematch.
None of that is going to happen.
Usyk will fight on twice or maybe three times more, which will likely include IBF next and then this elusive unification and then rematch clause invocation against WBC champion Tyson Fury. For Daniel Dubois, the future still holds limitless possibilities.
At 25 he is probably still several years away from his heavyweight prime and now has some boxing reality woven throughout his burgeoning CV.
A scouting report might mark down his warrior spirit in his two losses. But Joe Joyce shattered that eye socket and a befuddling at the hands of Uysk’s mercurial genius on away soil really shouldn’t be judged too harshly. Whilst the low blow cacophony is silencing the true one-sided nature and ending of this fight anyway.