Posted on 08/29/2023
By: Sean Crose
Before this weekend he was seen as pretty much being the top dog in the heavyweight division. Holding three of it’s four major titles, Oleksandr Usyk was viewed as the man eager to unify the heavyweight crown. The only other major titleholder, Tyson Fury, in fact, seemed less than enthralled with getting in the ring with his fellow titlist. It wasn’t Usyk’s fault, so the reasoning went, that Fury didn’t want a piece of him. While Fury was preparing to face another of the endless array of UFC stars who want to try their hands at boxing, Usyk at least was facing an actual contender, Daniel Dubois.
Few gave Dubois a chance when he stepped into the ring last Saturday night in Poland to take on Ukraine’s Usyk. Dubois, after all, wasn’t undefeated, as Usyk was. What’s more, Dubois had been knocked out by fellow contender Joe Joyce not all that long ago. Usyk’s record, on the other hand, was perfect. What’s more, he had defeated the lauded Anthony Joshua twice on top of previously having been crowned the undisputed cruiserweight division king. Again, it all seemed as if it would be an easy night’s work for the likeable Usyk.
That didn’t prove to be the case. Although Usyk won by ninth round knockout after having previously dropped his man in the eighth, Dubois had clearly travelled to Poland to win. He was in the fight from beginning to end and, although he lost, Dubois proved able to land effectively on skillmeister Usyk…an impressive feat. It was one of Dubois’ punches, however, which turned what was basically a hard earned but one sided victory for Usyk into a reputation damaging trigger of controversy. By the fifth round, it was clear Dubois was employing his impressive body attack to weaken the defending champion. One powerfully delivered right, however, landed low. Suffice to say, Usyk went down.
Referee Luis Pabon ruled the shot a low blow and gave Usyk time to recover. And, at that very moment, the narrative around Usyk changed. Word is now out that, due to the fact much of Dubois’ glove landed on Usyk’s beltline, that Usyk was dropped by a body shot rather than by a low blow – and was then given time to recover by Pabon. Whether or not this is all true appears to be up to the individual to decide (I saw the fight live and thought the shot was low while the friend watching it with me thought Dubois was done dirty).
Dubois’ promoter, Frank Warren, is willing to take things up with the World Boxing Association, the organization through which Dubois was able to become Usyk’s mandatory opponent. “I’d like them to declare it a no contest,” Warren stated to talkSPORT, “because Daniel should have those three belts around his waist, but if we can get it to a rematch then that’s where we’ll get to…the game plan out there was to go to his (Usyk’s) body because he definitely has a weakness to his body… but he’s going to have to do more than that the next time he fights him.”