Boxing: Usyk Drops Dubois To Retain World Heavyweight Titles

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Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk retained his world heavyweight titles with a ninth-round knockout of Britain’s Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday. There was a lengthy delay in the fifth round after the referee ruled Usyk had been struck by a low blow from Dubois.

But the champion recovered to drop Dubois down on one knee in the eighth round after landing with several punches to the head. Dubois just beat the count before the bell sounded for the end of the round. But the fight was all over in the next, with Usyk sending Dubois onto the canvas.

This time the challenger was unable to get back to his feet before the referee counted to 10. Victory meant Usyk kept hold of the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation heavyweight belts. It also extended his perfect professional record to 21 wins from 21 bouts.

Usyk, is one of the most imperious boxers at any weight class. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist became an undisputed champion at cruiserweight when he won the World Boxing Super Series; beating Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev to bring together all four of the major titles in that division. He stepped up to heavyweight and has maintained that undefeated record while dethroning Anthony Joshua and soundly outpointing him again last year in Saudi Arabia.

He has become an iconic figure in his homeland. His second fight with Joshua was put back so he could return to Ukraine when Russia invaded his country. He took this defense of his titles to Poland, as close to Ukraine as possible under the current circumstances. Usyk, always an ambassador for his people, fights to represent his country and enjoyed rapturous support in the stadium. He needed that inspiration when Dubois, unexpectedly, had him in grave trouble.

“I feel good. I’m grateful for my team, my family, my children. I love you. I’m grateful for my country and the Ukrainian army. Thank you so much,” Usyk said afterwards. “Boxing is a tough sport, but I am great. It’s boxing. I love boxing. I respect my opponent, but it’s boxing, not ballet. It’s a king’s sport.”

Usyk has three of the four major heavyweight titles. He wants to fight the holder of the WBC belt, Tyson Fury now. “I’m ready,” he said. “Next fight, I’m ready to fight Tyson Fury. I can’t wait to see my children, I can’t wait to get home. I miss my family. I’ve been in training for ages, I am a little bit tired,” he added.

Dubois on the other hand, insisted he did not land a low blow. He maintained that should have been ruled a knockdown; if not a knockout given how long Usyk stayed down. He said: “I don’t think that it was a low blow. I’ve been cheated out of victory. That was a win tonight. But I’ll come again.”

Frank Warren, Dubois’ promoter, and his trainer Don Charles both agreed. “It hit [Usyk] on the waistband. That was not a low blow. How long did he get to recover? A couple of minutes? The governing body will have to look at that and order a rematch. Justice has to be done,” Warren said. Charles was left lamenting: “How is that low?”

He added: “I’ve usually got a lot to say but I’m speechless. Daniel Dubois has left the building. He’s distraught. He’s a young man aspiring to do great things in life, in boxing.” Dubois’ team say they will appeal what happened. Warren later added: “That was a legitimate blow and [the fight] should’ve been stopped.

“He got three minutes and 46 seconds’ recovery time, which was wrong. He got it wrong; the referee, and I still don’t understand; it was a low blow, why he didn’t take any points off him? I don’t think [the referee’s] crooked, I think he just got it totally wrong. As a result, it should be declared a no contest in the worst case, or a rematch ordered.”

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