OLEKSANDR USYK 21-0 (14) successfully defended his three heavyweight belts against Daniel Dubois in front of a jubilant crowd in Wroclaw, Poland tonight.
The Ukrainian master got the job done in the ninth round after his British challenger was dropped for the second time in the fight.
A downpour of rain didn’t dampen the Polish and Ukrainian support for Usyk who won as many expected but the events of round five may be used by Dubois’ team as a reason to complain in the hours and days that follow.
Rounds one to four were controlled by Usyk with Dubois not getting close enough to land anything of significance. A jolting jab from the champion in round one would have woken Dubois up to the task if he indeed needed to be.
The size of the ring, small in appearance, didn’t play in Dubois’ favour early on. He may have had his own size advantage from a physical standpoint, but Usyk was sharper with more telling jabs and straight lefts which Dubois could not get out the way of. The challenger’s tactics appeared to target the champion’s midsection. Some of which Usyk was not happy with.
In the first 30 seconds of round five Usyk was even unhappier when Dubois planted a straight right which put Usyk on the seat of his pants. It was deemed a low blow and the long odds-on favourite was given ample time to recover by referee Luis Pabon. Usyk looked across to his corner with a shake of his head and then at the night skies seemingly trying to find inspiration to get back up and continue.
Dubois set about his wounded opponent when the fight resumed and continued to throw shots near the mid-rift area. Usyk was troubled and, in some bother, but in the final seconds found champion-like recovery powers to take the fight back to the 25-year-old and finish the session strong.
The body attacks continued but Usyk was back in a rhythm but did have to absorb a noteworthy left hand counter to the face at the end of the sixth.
Usyk began to land shots over the top but had to absorb another right to the body midway through the seventh which may have hurt him. Dubois was attempting to make the fight physical again, but Usyk was finding gaps to let his hands go and suck the effort out of Dubois.
The beginning of the end came in round eight when Dubois was caught with two southpaw jabs before a straight left did some damage and then a cuffing shot to the top of his head had him down. Usyk followed up his success in the ninth whipping a right hand around Dubois with a left waiting for good measure. A bloodied Dubois was now having his wings clipped more and more as Usyk looked to punish him, perhaps, for what went down in round five. Midway through round nine the challenge of Dubois was over when a short right hand, not thrown with maximum power, dropped the Brit. Luis Pabon had seen enough and ended the fight there and then.
The win was never in doubt but the sight of Usyk being down in the fifth from a hefty blow will be a topic of discussion for many. As for the punch that landed it looked borderline and one where an argument will be made from both teams as to whether it was illegal or not. Had it been deemed a knockdown Usyk may have been counted out such was the pain he was in.
Dubois 19-2 (18) produced a better effort than many would have expected. At such a young heavyweight age he has enough time to come back and prove his worth once again.
Usyk plans to return to his family and rest. He and the boxing world now wait to see if the biggest fight in the division, Usyk vs Tyson Fury, can be agreed for 2024.