Oleksandr Usyk’s opponent claims robbery in TKO loss

Oleksandr Usyk picked up another title defense for his heavyweight belts this weekend, but the win didn't come without some controversy.

By: Zane Simon | 1 month ago
Oleksandr Usyk’s opponent claims robbery in TKO loss
Oleksandr Usyk and Daniel Dubois pose at weigh ins. Andrzej Iwanczuk IMAGO/NurPhoto

On the face of things Oleksandr Usyk’s latest fight seemed perfectly cut and dried. Certainly Bloody Elbow’s own boxing analyst, Lukasz Fenrych, had the unbeaten Ukranian champion taking every single round before TKO-ing Daniel Dubois in the 9th.

However, there was one point midway through the fight that has sparked some spirited discussion from fans, and a potentially more serious conversation for officials.

Daniel Dubois’ low blow on Oleksandr Usyk

Early in round five, Daniel Dubois landed a heavy body shot that sent Oleksandr Usyk sprawling to the mat. The champion spent several minutes recovering from the strike, far beyond any 10-count or standing 8-count, but within the five minute allowable time frame for an illegal blow.

The referee did immediately call the punch a foul when it occurred, but multiple angles of the shot haven’t seemed to make things any clearer.

Making things all the more difficult in a case like this, is the fact that the actual equipment doesn’t really determine what constitutes a low blow in boxing, because fighters are given so much leeway with the size, shape, and placement of their fight trunks. Technically a low blow needs to be below the waistband, not simple connecting to the shorts, but that can also change depending on how high the fighter hikes up their equipment. Whatever the case may be, the referee called it a foul, Usyk recovered, and came back to win the fight.

Dubois plans to appeal

In his post fight interview after his TKO loss, Daniel Dubois made it immediately clear the disputed foul call was still very much at the front of his mind. To hear him tell it, Oleksandr Usyk went down to a legal blow and was down on the canvas long enough that a different ref would have ruled the fight a TKO loss for the Ukranian.

“I didn’t think that was a low blow. I thought that landed [legally] and I’ve been cheated out of victory tonight,” Dubois announced in the ring (transcript via MMA Fighting).

Unsurprisingly, Dubois’ promoter, Frank Warren, also got in on the act, looking to stir up controversy. Warren claims that Dubois’ whole strategy through fight camp was to work Usyk’s body, and that the strategy paid of perfectly in the ring with that telling blow. It was only referee negligence that stopped his fighter from becoming champion today.

“Cheated out of victory. It hit him on the waistband,” added Frank Warren, Dubois’ promoter. “… That’s all he worked on in camp. Working to the body. We see that as a weakness and he got caught, and that referee got it badly wrong. Badly wrong. Didn’t take any points off him. If there’s a low blow, why didn’t you take points off him? And I like Usyk, I like him, but that was a hometown decision. Compete hometown decision. He won that fight because he was not fit to go on and they gave him, I don’t know how long it was, a couple of minutes to recover from a legitimate shot.”

“[We’re going to] appeal what’s going on here and then see we’ll see where it goes from there,” Warren added, “but I’m quite sure they’ll order another rematch, order another fight. They have to. Justice has to be done.”

Despite Warren’s confidence, it seems highly unlikely that official review will either overturn the result or lead to an immediate rematch. Usually the standard for that kind of appeal isn’t just that a ref missed a foul, but showing proof of either knowing misconduct or obvious negligence. In this case, the referee saw a borderline shot, called a foul, followed proper procedure with said foul and then the fight went on for multiple rounds afterward, all of which Dubois likely failed to win.

The referee themselves would likely have to come forward and admit clear error to prompt further action from a commission. Most likely the incident will just go down as one of those ‘you had to be there’ footnotes in combat sports history.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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