Low blow or no low blow, the only probable revenge for Daniel Dubois would have taken place on the cobblestones of this historic Polish city on the Sunday morning after the fight before.
Oleksandr Usyk issued the challenge as controversy swirled around the knockout victory, which keeps him and Tyson Fury on course for a hugely rewarding battle for the undisputed heavyweight world championship at the start of next year.
“If he really wants it, I will fight him tomorrow with bare fists in the street,” said the Ukrainian flag bearer of his war-torn country.
At the very late hour when Usyk made this offer, Dubois had left the building “distraught at having been cheated out of my dream”.
25-year-old British promoter Frank Warren and his new coach Don Charles have taken over on his behalf.
Oleksandr Usyk (pictured) was knocked to the ground in the fifth round of Saturday’s fight against Daniel Dubois
Dubois (left) delivered a contentious punch to the Ukrainian fighter, which the referee ruled was below the belt.
Usyk (left) was given time out and had time to recover after the punch knocked him down.
Warren said he would appeal for Saturday night’s ‘bull***t’ to be declared a no-contest and ordered to be re-run, ideally in London. Good luck with that one, Frank.
Such an outcome is as unlikely as the mission Dubois embarked on in a football stadium filled to the rafters with 40,000 loyal patriots.
Charles reiterated that while they all hold Usyk with “full respect as a great champion”, he is “a cheater who faked it”. These two rather inconsistent statements came after a heated argument over whether the body shot that sent the champ writhing to the canvas in round five was above or below the belt.
“Weak,” referee Luis Pabon ruled, giving Usyk almost four minutes to recover and proceed with his demolition of Dynamite Dubois. “Legal,” raged Team Dubois claiming it should have been his knockout, along with a few microphone-equipped cheerleaders and a majority of Britain’s social media.
Much depends on the angle from which it was viewed. Dubois and Co went with a photograph that supports their thesis. Usyk and his men have produced another that looks below pale.
The uncomfortable truth from a UK perspective is that it seemed weak at the time it happened and slow-motion replays don’t do any better than a 50-50 call. The WBA will therefore have to support its referee, especially since no part of the Dubois glove came into contact with anything other than the shorts that Usyk is wearing low. The red line not to cross passes through the navel.
The subplot is that Dubois has been programmed to search for a perceived flaw in the otherwise unrivaled Usyk’s belly. It was a strategy that carried the risk of deviating from the law, if only by a few centimeters.
Did Usyk deal with it writhing in agony to buy a long break? Without a doubt.
But if Senor Pabon had started counting instead of scolding Dubois, would Usyk have struggled to get up in time, survived the round, and still won? Very probably. Did he deserve to do it? Absolutely.
The heavyweight champion (right) then defended his belts against Dubois, stopping him in the ninth round.
After the fight Dubois (pictured), who was also knocked down in the eighth round, said he was ‘cheated’
Usyk landed a right hand on his opponent to take him down in the ninth round and retain his heavyweight belts
Although it wasn’t quite the masterful performance that Usyk twice treated Anthony Joshua to, he was so dominant that Dubois only won one of the sets before succumbing in the ninth.
After nearly beating the count when he was knocked down in the eighth, Dubois never looked like it when he got down to his knees by one of those nasty straight straights in the ninth.
The brutal nature of Usyk’s challenge to get out and work it out on the cobbles suggests that, let alone navel, Dubois would have lost his stomach by then following a prolonged fight.
Once the match was over, the two men engaged in heated exchanges in the Dubois corner.
He claimed he was deprived of his due due to Usyk’s overreaction to the most serious of many blows to the body.
The older man, who still wore all the belts around his waist, replied: “It’s boxing, not ballet. But it is not allowed to hit a man in the balls.
The big unanswered question now is: where does Dubois go from here?
Usyk said: “He’s still young and now he has the experience of a really big fight. Whether he can come back from this to win a world title depends on where he is mentally.
Hopefully, after licking his wounds and putting it all into perspective, this likable lad will be right to come back.
After the match, he called Tyson Fury, saying he was “ready” to face the Gypsy King.
Fury won’t fight Francis Ngannou in October in Saudi Arabia but could end up against Usyk afterwards
Usyk knows what’s next for him. Does he need Fury and become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era to complete his legacy of greatness?
“Yes,” he asserts. “I want it, if he wants it.”
That’s to be confirmed by the Gypsy King after his October diversion in a crossover fight with former UFC legend Francis Ngannou in the oil-rich Saudi Arabian fields. Otherwise, Usyk will host another of his mandatory challengers, undefeated Croatian Filip Hrgovic.
Meanwhile, the fury under the belly has more legs to go. So was it low? Well, it came in the form of an uppercut that went through Usyk’s nether regions. The very, very uncomfortable truth is that if I had been hit like this at the same age as Dubois, I highly doubt I would be a proud father. and grandfather today.