Oleksandr Usyk successfully defended his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday, but the outcome has proved so controversial that those involved with Dubois insist that only a no-contest ruling would be fair.
“The situation is that we will be lobbying the WBA to make it a no-contest,” his promoter Frank Warren said, post-fight. “The [fifth-round] knockdown, which the referee said was below the belt. Anybody that has seen it, I’m quite sure you would have seen where the punch actually landed, it was on the waistband of his shorts.
“That weren’t a low blow anyway. It hit him on the shorts but the criteria is as explained. At the rules meetings the waist is the midpoint of your hips; the hips of your body. So it was much lower; that was a legitimate blow and it should have been stopped. He [Usyk] got a three minute and 45 seconds recovery time, which was wrong. He got it wrong, the referee [Luis Pabon].
“I still don’t understand that if it was a low blow. If it was, why didn’t he take any points off? That is where we are going with this. The game plan all along was looking for body shots when he went backwards. He is a great champion, Usyk. We have tremendous respect for him but that was the chink in his armour and that is what Daniel was trying to exploit. Eventually he did do that, but was cheated out of a victory.”
Dubois was the mandatory challenger for the undefeated Usyk. Puerto Rico’s Luis Pabon responded to his punch by calling a timeout.
“I’ve worked with the referee for a number of years and have always had the utmost respect for him.” Warren explained. “I don’t think he is crooked, I just think he got it wrong. I think he got it totally wrong.
“If you get something wrong, you hold your hands up. Look at the photograph, any of you guys – a lot of you have sent it to me. I have looked back at it on TV and it is on the waistband of the shorts which is a legitimate target area. It is a fact.”
Usyk had complained to the referee in the fourth round after a punch near the kidney area landed.
“They complained about body shots three or four times during the fight.” Warren continued. “It happens. Look, we are not stupid. I have been around long enough; you are coming to the other guy’s backyard and he is the favourite here, and quite rightly so. He’s a Ukrainian hero and we are all Ukrainian fans. We are all funking with Ukraine to beat the bullies; to beat Russia.
“We are with them on that. We support you; in the UK we are all on it. But this is all about sport. This about two superb fighters in the ring, and there should have been a legitimate outcome. There wasn’t, and the referee got it wrong. Because of that it should be called a no contest; at very least a rematch should be ordered.”