'I was three feet away from the action' – Barry Jones reviews Oleksandr Usyk-Daniel Dubois controversy

The low blow saga between Oleksandr Usyk and Daniel Dubois has split opinion among professional fighters, pundits and fans. Referee Luis Pabon ruled a punch below-the-belt in the fifth round of Saturday’s heavyweight world title fight at the Stadion Wroclaw, in Wroclaw, Poland.

ProBox TV caught up with former world champion, now commentator, Barry Jones to get his expert view on the incident and Dubois’s performance against Usyk. 

“I was about three feet from the action.” Jones said in an exclusive interview for the network. “We were hearing the effects of the punches, there were microphones all around the ring. You could hear the sound, I don’t know if you can hear it on TNT [Sports], maybe they were talking when the shot landed. But we weren’t talking, so we could hear it. You could hear the glove hit Usyk’s protector, well I could anyway. And by the way, why did he go down if he wasn’t hurt, it obviously hurt him. During that part of the fight Dubois was knackered, he was going to get stopped in a round I felt. I thought it was the start of the end for me. The rest did Dubois a favour, he could get a bit of air back in him. It was a low-blow, but there was no malice in it. It would have been a great shot if it was four inches higher. It wasn’t anywhere near the private parts but the protector is not there just to cover your crown jewels, if that was the case you would just wear a small cup. The protector is big and bulky, why would you want to wear one of those? There is a lot going on down there, you have your bladder down there, your appendix, reproductive system. If you get hit at the top of the protector it can ride down and it feels just like being hit in the bollocks. 

“When Usyk was on the floor, if that was a body shot that takes the wind out of you then you are not talking to the corner and the referee like he was. You would be bent over, you wouldn’t be sat down like Usyk was. He did make a meal out of it and he gave himself enough time to recover. This is a situation when I go for a former boxer's opinion rather than someone who has never done it. I’m not one of these ex boxers who subscribes to the opinion that a no ex boxer can’t have an opinion, you can actually study the sport enough to sometimes have a better opinion than the fighters. We are all stylistically biased, I’ve actually changed over the years. But with things like this, the fighters have experienced the pain themselves that gives them a better understanding on the subject. A lot of those shots on the belt are not as usually effective, the referee will let it go most of the time but most fighters are not 16 stone. In any sport, like football, you only need a little finger to hit you in the testicles to be in agony. The rule is from the belly button down, not from the hips. People do wear their jeans on their hips now, but it is not your actual waist line. They measure your waist around the belly button. The referee will come in the changing room, especially for a world title fight. If the shorts are high, the referee will say the shorts are a bit high, if so they will allow a shot on the top of the shorts, but a lot of fighters take that as red when hitting in that area is a good shot. People online are going mad saying it was an illegal shot, it doesn’t matter how little it was below the belt. The referee did the right thing, he made the right ”

Away from the drama of the fifth round Usyk dominated Dubois before and after, dropping the Englishman in the eighth round on way to a ninth round knockout victory. 

“Daniel did okay, he lasted longer than I thought.” Jones continued. “It has actually worked alright for him, loads of people are supporting him online saying he was robbed. Carl Frampton said it was a good shot, it wasn’t a good shot. People were saying ‘you could have let it go if you wanted to’ and they are right to a degree, refs will let it go if there is not too much force behind it.”

Usyk and his team did claim that Dubois produced a ‘dirty performance’ and that ‘he landed low blows multiple times’ 

“He is not clever enough to be a dirty fighter.” Jones explained. “I don’t mean that as a person, just as a fighter. To be dirty and get away with it, you need to master that. He is just not that. I remember my first 12 round fight, Peter Jodson, he was a maniac of a fighter. When he would attack me I would unintentionally go low. I was unintentionally dirty there, maybe that is what Daniel was doing. But I don’t think he was, he was boxing a shorter fighter and hit him a bit low with the uppercut. It happens quite often. What played out was right. You can’t blame Frank Warren and Don Charles for complaining because it is their guy. Daniel had a little window there in the round Usyk went down, but he didn’t capitalise on his opportunity. He just couldn’t do it, which is understandable. Usyk is harder to fight than he is to look at. You would train for him better than you think but when you get in front of him it is very different to what you would expect. He was more effective as a cruiserweight, he is still great as a heavyweight. His front foot suffocates you, he was forcing Daniel back without throwing punches. The fear of getting hit by him makes you retreat, he is so hard to read because of those twitchy movements. He’s always bouncing a little bit, changing the level’s constantly. You are thinking rather than getting to work. A lot of heavyweights can’t think as quick as Usyk.”