Joe Joyce realizes that Daniel Dubois just as easily could’ve been declared a fifth-round knockout winner over Oleksandr Usyk as a ninth-round knockout loser.
Joyce saw Dubois’ much-discussed body shot August 26 as a borderline blow that referee Luis Pabon probably could’ve called a legal shot. Pabon, of course, ruled it a low blow and gave Usyk almost four minutes to recover.
As much as that controversial sequence changed the course of their fight for Usyk’s IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles, Joyce also believes Dubois could’ve gotten up in time to beat Pabon’s count in the ninth round. London’s Dubois waited until Pabon counted to nine to attempt to reach his feet, which led to Pabon stopping their bout before he counted to 10 in Wroclaw, Poland.
“I think he could’ve got up, but maybe it’s inexperience and he wasn’t ready for that level of contest,” Joyce told BoxingScene.com. “He could’ve like took the eight count and got up on eight, instead of waiting until nine, 10. That was his mistake, but I don’t know. It’s difficult to call.
“But he’s young and I think in the camp with [new trainer] Don Charles, I thought he looked good. He looked like he’s made some improvements and stuff, his speed and his techniques and stuff. But yeah, again, he took a knee, didn’t he, after a jab.”
Dubois took a knee 28 seconds into the 10th round after absorbing a lot of Joyce’s jabs in their November 2020 bout at Church House in London. A then-undefeated Dubois didn’t even try to get up before referee Ian John-Lewis counted him out and declared Joyce the winner by knockout.
Though admittedly annoyed that Dubois got a shot at Usyk before him, London’s Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs) wanted Dubois to win late last month because it would’ve set up an important domestic rematch if Joyce can regain his WBO interim title from China’s Zhilei Zhang on Saturday night at OVO Arena Wembley in London. “The Juggernaut” noticed an improved Dubois (19-2, 18 KOs), who landed a right to Usyk’s body that made him take a knee barely 20 seconds into the fifth round.
“It was on the belt line and depending on how high you pull your shorts, in the rules it wasn’t as low,” Joyce said. “I think that the shot definitely hurt him, but I didn’t think it was – it was tough to call. It was in that gray area, where it was on the belt line and it could be argued both ways. … But he used veteran tactics to get him through. I think it was the second time he’s done that. It wasn’t the first time. And I’ve seen fights where that was a legal shot on the belt line as well.”
Usyk recovered, caused Dubois to take a knee after throwing a combination of punches late in the eighth round and dropped Dubois again with a jab early in the ninth round. Pabon stopped their scheduled 12-round bout 48 seconds into the ninth round.
London’s Joyce, 38, can become a mandatory challenger for one of Usyk’s championships again by beating the 40-year-old Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) in their 12-round rematch. Their second showdown will headline a TNT Sports broadcast in the United Kingdom and Ireland (7 p.m. BST) and a two-bout show ESPN+ will stream in the United States (5 p.m. EDT; 2 p.m. PDT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.