Frank Warren hopes Daniel Dubois will use his controversial loss to Oleksandr Usyk as a springboard to improve his mental fortitude on the world title stage.
Last Saturday night at Wroclaw, Poland, Usyk, the unified WBO, WBA, IBF, and IBO heavyweight champion from Ukraine, stopped London’s Dubois in nine rounds, despite momentarily being imperiled himself in the fifth, when Dubois landed a hard right to the body that caused Usyk to collapse on the canvas. The punch, whose legitimacy has been debated fervently by fans and observers alike in the intervening days, was deemed by referee Luis Pabon as a low blow, so Usyk was afforded ample time—nearly four minutes out of an allotted five—to recover.
Dubois stated after the fight that he “became disheartened and lost momentum” after the low blow incident, which, he says, prevented him from capitalizing on a seemingly wounded Usyk. Rather it was the Ukrainian who mounted an offensive, first dropping Dubois with a flurry to close the eighth round and then stopping him for good in the ninth, when Usyk connected with a stiff right jab. Dubois immediately took a knee and was counted out after getting up on his feet too late.
In a recent interview, Warren, the head of Queensberry, which promotes Dubois, offered a sobering assessment of his client. While Warren blamed referee Pabon for erring during the pivotal moment in the fight, he also made it clear that Dubois could have acquitted himself in better fashion after the fifth round.
“He didn’t complain (of the stoppage),” Warren said of Dubois once the referee waved off the fight in an interview with iFL TV. “I was a bit annoyed by that. He could’ve complained about it. I don’t think it’s so much that he quit, I think that, I dunno, I think he did. When you say losing momentum, momentum is, I dunno if it’s desire to carry on with it or not. I’m not sure. But he stopped. He did. That was it.
“All knockdowns are different,” Warren continued. “He did lose his momentum. No doubt about that. It did take a lot out of him. But he’s 25 years of age now. Like I said earlier he’s in a similar position as Joshua … he’s got youth on his side. He’s now got to, having fought for a world title, know what it takes to win it if something goes wrong, which went wrong with the referee. You can’t lose your momentum. You’ve got to overcome that. You’ve got to grit your teeth and overcome that.”
“That’s what he’s got to learn from that fight. That’s the facts of life. You know, you’ve got to get in the trenches and do it. I can understand why you lose momentum. I can understand the disappointment. In front of 46,000 Ukrainian fans, the whole stadium is on his side, and he’s in the lion’s den. You’ve got the guy in trouble and you know that if he had carried on, he would’ve stopped him. He (Usyk) was in trouble, there’s no doubt about it. I can see why he would lose momentum. But he fought for a couple of rounds afterward. He was OK. He’s not taken a shellacking in that fight at all.”
Warren stated that his team is preparing evidence to submit to the WBA to overturn the verdict to a “no contest” or at the minimum to force a rematch.
“Do I think if he (Dubois) got up two seconds earlier would the referee have called it off?” Warren said. “I don’t think so and he could have carried on. He went into the lion’s den, as Tyson went into the lion’s den. …One thing’s for sure, if we do get a rematch, which I’m confident we’ll do, he knows what he’s got to do now. He knows he has to grit his teeth. You win a world title by absolutely leaving nothing behind in the ring.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.