Oleksandr Usyk ended Daniel Dubois’ world heavyweight title dream with a ninth-round knockout in Wroclaw.
Usyk kept hold of his WBA, IBF and WBO belts with a 14th knockout win in 21 fights, much to the delight of the large contingent of his fellow Ukrainians who have resided in Poland since Russian’s invasion of their country last year.
Dubois was the overwhelming underdog but he had tipped the scales on Friday almost a stone heavier than Usyk’s 15st and 10lbs frame, and the British boxer did himself justice with a battling performance.
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared on the giant screens before the fight to deliver a rallying cry for his country in their war with Russia.
The crowd at the Tarczynski Arena chanted ‘Usyk, Usyk, Usyk’ as the action got under way with Dubois determined not to be overawed.
The 25-year-old Londoner tried to hold the centre of the ring but Usyk’s accurate jab saw him shade the opening round.
Dubois was more adventurous at the start of the second but was briefly set back on his heels by some powerful shots.
Usyk stayed on the outside to dominate the next two rounds but Dubois was proving many pre-fight predictions wrong by remaining in the contest.
Dubois caught Usyk with a low blow in the fifth that put the Ukrainian down but was deemed accidental.
While some observers might have considered the punch to be on the belt line, Usyk was given time to recover. But Dubois sensed this was his moment and the pair traded heavy punches.
The bad feeling between the pair was evident as the bell sounded and Dubois continued to focus on the Ukrainian’s body in the sixth.
💥AND STILL, Congrats to Unified WBO Heavyweight Champion 🇺🇦 Oleksandr Usyk, who defeated 🇬🇧 Daniel Dubois, via 9th-Round TKO in Poland. pic.twitter.com/vKJso2tHRk
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) August 26, 2023
Usyk upped the pace in the seventh, forcing Dubois to take a backward step and leaving the Londoner marked for the first time.
Dubois recovered in the eighth but in the final 10 seconds he was dropped to the canvas.
He managed to get back to his feet as the bell sounded but there was to be no respite for Dubois.
Usyk charged in again and put down Dubois again for the referee Luis Pabon to wave the fight off.
Dubois told talkSPORT: “It wasn’t to be my night. But that wasn’t a low blow, it was a body shot. I’m gutted.”