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Daniel Dubois fury as Oleksandr Usyk secures stoppage win after low-blow controversy

 (Various)
(Various)

Oleksandr Usyk retained his heavyweight world title belts with a controversial victory over Daniel Dubois in Poland.

Debate raged on deep into Saturday night at Stadion Wroclaw after Dubois, in his first world title fight, was deemed to have illegally struck Usyk with a low blow that floored the Ukrainian in the fifth round.

Given a time out rather than counted out, Usyk was allowed to compose himself for a number of minutes before returning and earning a TKO victory in the ninth.

Usyk’s speed set him on the path to victory in the early rounds with Dubois more hesitant and not able to blow away his opponent, as so many expect the larger heavyweights to seek to do against the relatively diminutive 36-year-old.

The Londoner improved in the fourth before his body shot put Usyk on the canvas. Replays showed it land on the waistband of Usyk, an arguably borderline decision which nonetheless didn’t earn any kind of points deduction for Dubois, as would be typical for an illegal shot.

After several moments on the floor, amid boos from the Wroclaw fans, Usyk earned cheers by clambering back to his feet and eventually returning to action.

Dubois relinquished the opportunity to take advantage of his rival’s struggles and Usyk got back into the fight, even as further body shots continued to cause him trouble.

A frantic seventh saw the defending champion regain control and he had Dubois on his knees to end the eighth before a right-hander to the head secured the stoppage a round later.

Boxing is tough, but I’m great,” Usyk said post-fight as he dismissed the controversy. “It’s boxing I love and I respect my opponent. But it’s boxing, it’s not ballet. It’s boxing.”

Dubois’ camp made their fury known with trainer Don Charles bellowing “how is that low!?” as the big screen showed the fifth-round replay. Dubois himself said: “I didn’t think that was a low blow, I thought it landed and I’ve been cheated out of a victory.”

Promoter Frank Warren declared his intention to appeal and demand a rematch for a “badly wrong” call he labelled a “hometown decision”.

The controversy is set to rumble on and put Usyk’s potential unification battle against Tyson Fury at risk, despite his declaration after his victory that he’s “ready” to face down the WBC champion.