ONE understands, completely, why Daniel Dubois is disappointed. One understands that, on a different night with a different referee, a count may have been tolled over Oleksandr Usyk in round five and then we’d know if he could have gotten up or not. But what happened was far from a grave miscarriage of justice.
My own opinion on it, and I’ll keep this as brief as possible, is that at least part of the glove strayed low therefore it was an illegal blow. There are two reasons for thinking this. One, where the punch landed. It was low and a punch doesn’t have to land squarely on the nuts to be low. Two, the reaction from Usyk (Thomas Hauser does a better job of explaining this than I could, elsewhere in this issue). And three, the speed at which the referee, Luis Pabon, made the call. He had a better view, albeit briefly, than anyone.
Without question, Dubois feeling hard done by is perfectly natural. But from that moment when the referee made his decision, the subsequent noise – and by golly there was an awful lot of it – became completely irrelevant. One hopes that Dubois can take comfort from his performance and learn and grow. He is only 25, after all. But one wonders, behind closed doors, if he’s at least as equally disappointed with the way the fight concluded than what came before. Because if Usyk was as hurt as he made it appear, and as hurt as some are suggesting, then Dubois’ failure to take advantage and, more so, his subsequent falls to one knee are where his attention should really focus if he wants to one day rule the world.
A rematch looks unlikely. And those lobbying for it might be a little wary about pushing too hard given that the World Boxing Association, the sanctioning body who installed Dubois as their leading heavyweight contender, could soon be facing investigations into their ranking policies according to testimonies coming out of America. Dubois’ rise through the ratings, after losing to Joe Joyce in 2020, is yet to be satisfactorily explained by anyone. And Dubois’ chances in an immediate rematch are surely smaller than if he were to regroup and gain substantially more top-flight experience beforehand. He has time on his side.
Perhaps the person who should be feeling the most disappointed is Tyson Fury. That could have been him in with Usyk last weekend. We might now be calling Fury one of the best heavyweights of them all instead of bracing ourselves for Tyson versus an old MMA fighter. Fury will win that at a canter, one presumes. But with each fight that occurs that isn’t Fury-Usyk, and with every gruelling training camp they endure, the chance of either being at their best deteriorates.
IT WAS announced last week that Robert Helenius failed a VADA test conducted before he fought Anthony Joshua. It is of course no surprise in the current environment and, as stated before, a boxer failing a test is not necessarily bad news for the sport. It’s what happens following the test failure that is crucial.
Helenius, like pretty much every athlete who has failed a test, claims he’s got no idea what happened. “I want to say something very clear in my own words right now with absolutely no exception,” he stated. “I did not use any performance enhancement now or ever. I have been tested my entire career.”
A fortnight before, after stepping in to face Joshua after original opponent Dillian Whyte was forced out due to failing a test, Helenius said on the matter of drugs in boxing: “In Finland, if I would be caught, I would be lynched for my whole life. Two years minimum, nothing. I would never get a licence again. If I would do that I would never be able to box in Finland anymore.
“It feels like I’m at a disadvantage, I don’t have the luxury of doing it. They come to my home, they take my blood, they come to my work and everything. It’s not fair. But who said that life should be fair?
“My doping is that I have a real high level of Viking blood in me. I don’t care! I don’t care. Use whatever you want.”