It was a heavyweight-filled Saturday afternoon/evening as ESPN and Top Rank hosted a unified title fight along with matchups for their budding young star Jared Anderson (16-0, 15 KOs) and the rest of their heavyweight stable. Little did we know we would get glimpses of Andrew Golota, who was famously disqualified for low blows in his fight with Riddick Bowe on July 11, 1996.
IS THE DEBATE OVER THE LOW BLOW AN OVEREACTION OR MERITED?
THE LOW BLOW FROM DUBOIS 😳 pic.twitter.com/T2gaGiJKXC— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 26, 2023
It was a rainy night in Poland as ESPN+ streamed the heavyweight title fight between unified champion Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs) and 25-year-old Daniel Dubois (19-2, 18 KOs). Before the two combatants were given their final instructions, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the thousands of Ukrainian citizens in attendance who went to Poland for safety after the war broke out with Russia. Once the bell rang, it was back to focusing on the heavyweight title fight between Usyk and Dubois.
From the opening round, it looked as though Dubois was trying to do something that wasn’t in his DNA, and that’s box with the boxer. Usyk is a master boxer, and although after the fight, he told Dubois that this isn’t ballet but boxing, he moves like a dancer, which allows him to move around the ring and pump that right jab smoothly. Dubois was bouncing on his feet, but his strengths are coming forward, sitting down on his punches, and doing so while being stationary, not bouncing on his feet. Dubois seemed lost in the first few rounds but then made the adjustment by focusing on the body, and that’s when he started to see results.
Usyk started to slow down a bit, and in the fifth round, Dubois landed a right uppercut that, after closely analyzing, appeared to be a low blow. Initially, it looked like a legal blow, but when you zoom in on the photo and see that half of the glove is under the belt line, it’s a low blow, according to the rules. Usyk went down hard, and he needed the full five minutes to recover. The referee also gave him another minute even though Usyk said he was ready to continue. That also sparked some controversy as Usyk acknowledging he was ready to go should have been the moment when the fight continued. Dubois jumped on Usyk but couldn’t make anything happen to force a knockdown or stoppage in that round.
The debate about whether it was a legal blow took over social media, and some fans felt like Dubois was robbed of his moment of becoming the heavyweight champion. It seemed like an overreaction then, but I can see why it was a debatable topic, as it was an extremely close call. Nevertheless, the fight continued, and Dubois failed to capitalize on the moment.
Usyk recovered in the next round, but as the rain intensified, the ring mat became slippery, which limited Usyk’s movement, making him more of a target for Dubois. The big right hand by Dubois started to find a home, but Usyk, being the great fighter he is, made the adjustments, scored a knockdown in the eighth round, and finished Dubois off in the ninth. Usyk won by ninth-round knockout, but the one takeaway from this fight is that he is vulnerable to the body, and his future opponents will now focus on that.
WHAT A SHOT TO END THE NIGHT IN POLAND 💥 pic.twitter.com/lR7S5eirmh— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 26, 2023
Those wanting to see the undisputed title fight between Usyk and Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) will have to continue to wait. Fury has a scheduled fight with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, and the IBF will more than likely enforce their mandatory as early as next week, according to Jake Donovan from Boxing Scene against Filip Hrgovic (16-0, 13 KOs). From the looks of it, we are back to waiting for the undisputed fight to occur either next summer or winter.
EFE AJAGBA IS ON THE RECEIVING END OF SEVERAL BLOWS TO THE FAMILY JEWELS
As if we needed to fuel social media even more with the Dubois low blow, out comes the heavyweight fight between Efe Ajagba (18-1, 13 KOs) and Zhan Kossobutskiy (19-1, 18 KOs). It started as an interesting fight, both Ajagba and Kossobutskiy had their moments in the first two rounds, but in the third round, the shenanigans began. Kossobutskiy landed two consecutive left uppercuts well below the belt, forcing Ajagba to go down in pain. The referee deducted a point, and the fight continued. Kossobutskiy would again land a low blow, getting the referee’s warning that he wouldn’t continue to tolerate his actions.
In the very next round, Kossobutskiy landed another low blow, and the referee immediately disqualified him, giving Ajagba the fourth-round victory by disqualification. Tim Bradley, who was on the call for ESPN, said that he felt Kossobutskiy “checked out” and did not want to be in there any longer, leading to the final low blow.
It was an eventful Saturday, but not so much for the two fighters receiving those low blows. One was debatable, while the other was clear as day. Let’s hope boxing got it out of their system, and we get a much cleaner fight next weekend.