From high drama after a low blow to down and out in the ninth round, nothing went right for Daniel Dubois as his world heavyweight title dream evaporated into a war-charged Ukrainian night here across the Polish border.
Controversy was roused by claims that the fifth-round body blow from Dubois was not low enough for the WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine title monopolist to have been given several long, long minutes to recover after being floored by it — before he returned to his task of defusing our Dynamite Daniel.
Until the magician from Kyiv turned on the supercharger at the end of the ninth Dubois had given a brave account of himself, albeit barely winning a round.
Frank Warren led the protests — and there will be plenty of outrage back home. At ringside immediately afterwards, Dubois was insistent that he was ‘cheated’ out of victory.
‘I didn’t think that was a low blow,’ he said on TNT Sports. ‘I thought it landed and that I’ve been cheated out of victory. I’ve been cheated out of it tonight. I’ll come again.’
A low blow provided high drama as Daniel Dubois’s world heavyweight dream was dashed in defeat to Oleksandr Usyk
The Ukrainian was left reeling in the fifth round following what was deemed to be a low blow by the British fighter
Usyk wasn’t able to continue for nearly four minutes after the controversial moment before rallying to claim victory
Usyk retained his world heavyweight titles by stopping Dubois in the ninth round and celebrated with his country’s flag
Dubois and his promoter Frank Warren led the protests over the decision, with Warren insisting it was ‘above board’
Warren added: ‘It wasn’t a low blow. They didn’t take any points off him. I like Usyk, but that was a complete home decision. He was not fit to go on and they gave him a couple of minutes to recover.
‘It should be straight and it should be above board. How long did he get to recover? The governing bodies will have to look at that and order a rematch. We will appeal what’s happened here.
‘It’s all about a legitimate punch that stopped him and he should have won.
‘Everyone wants to see the unification. If Daniel had got the result then it would have been easy to do. We will see now.’
Usyk finally got the better of Dubois in the ninth round, leaving the British fighter down on one knee as the referee intervened
Dubois was unable to continue and Usyk dropped to his knees in celebration after finding a path to victory in a tough contest
On a night of cloying humidity and crawling traffic, tens of thousands of Ukrainians walked most of the five miles from the centre of their adopted Polish city to the stadium.
They came to give Dubois as hot and hostile reception as they could muster. Also of course to roar on Usyk — their beloved war hero and world champion — to another patriotic victory.
Dubois looked serious and subdued as he walked the corridors from his dressing room, aware that almost all predictions favoured the undefeated holder of three of the major heavyweight belts.
Apart from his team, his family and his friends he was pretty much on his own here. ‘No problem,’ he said. ‘I will be in tunnel vision, shutting out the noise.’
Usyk insisted he is ready to face Tyson Fury in an undisputed world heavyweight title fight after overcoming Dubois
But it not easy to be unaffected by a first exposure to such an overwhelming atmosphere. Rain which been forecast for dawn arrived just before they entered the ring.
With the fighters dry beneath a giant canopy it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm which boiled over when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared on the giant screen to deliver a rallying cry for Ukraine in their war.
Dubois had gone with a risky plan to go after Usyk’s body and when that one landed it was just below the waist line.
Once Usyk had milked the situation he returned to the fray to deafening acclaim from 40,000 brothers and sisters at arms. And there was a hint of anger in the way he proceeded to bamboozle and beat up his young London challenger.
The finish inflicted by a deadly straight right jab for a second knockdown was vicious. The pair then went from blows to a lengthy exchange of views in a corner.
But in the end Dubois did not do enough to prevent Usyk’s progress towards an undisputed world title clash with Tyson Fury.
‘I feel good,’ said Usyk. ‘I am grateful for my team, my family, my children. I love you. I’m grateful for my county and the Ukrainian army. Thank you so much.
‘I’m ready tomorrow. Listen, I’m ready. Next fight I’m ready to fight Tyson Fury. Will Tyson Fury? I have no idea. I can’t wait to see my children and be back home. I’ve been training a long time. I’m a little bit tired.’