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.

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.”

Daniel Dubois knows he will have to “bully” Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night if he is to stand any chance of becoming Britain’s 10th world heavyweight champion.

Dubois (19-1, 18KOs) will attempt to etch his name into British history alongside Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Lennox Lewis when he walks out at Tarczynski Arena in front of around 43,000 spectators.

Usyk’s WBA, IBF and WBO belts will be on the line and the Ukrainian (20-0, 13KOs) will be backed by a partisan crowd in Wroclaw, which will be filled with Ukraine natives who have resided in Poland since Russian’s invasion of their country last year.

 

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The bookmakers make Dubois, 25, the overwhelming underdog but he tipped the scales at 16st and 9lbs at Friday’s weigh-in, almost a stone heavier than 36-year-old Usyk’s 15st and 10lbs.

Both boxers have fought 20 times in the professional ranks but there is a big disparity in rounds with Dubois involved in 105 fewer than Usyk’s 168, which has contained plenty for a world title.

Nevertheless, all of Dubois’ bouts have been at heavyweight while the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion only stepped up to the blue-riband division in 2019.

Dubois told the PA news agency: “I have been boxing for most of my life so that (age) argument is out of the window. I have the experience and I need to be a veteran in this fight.

“I have to bully him. I have to go in there and be the bully. Be the bully and shake him up.”

The Londoner also has a secret weapon after joining forces with trainer Don Charles, who was in Derek Chisora’s corner when the British veteran caused Usyk problems in 2020.

“Yeah, Don will be putting in things that I am not even aware of style-wise and coach-wise. He has a lot of passion and that is what you need,” Dubois said.

“You need the bully-the-bull type mentality to go in there and f*** s*** up, as they say. That is what we need to do.”

Stablemate Tyson Fury will also act as inspiration for Dubois with Queensberry Promotions promoter Frank Warren able to draw parallels between this clash and a memorable world title fight in Dusseldorf in 2015.

Few gave Fury any chance when he stepped out to fight Wladimir Klitschko eight years ago but he produced an enormous shock to win on points and claim the belts now held by Usyk in his own first world title bout.

Dubois added: “All the great fighters had to do it. Before they were champions, people doubted them and had a lot of things to say.

“Boxing is made up of opinions so I never take it to heart or let it break me. I am ready to go. Ready to go out there and prove what I need to do.

“Tyson is a good example. Look at what he has done and gone on to achieve now. I just need to get the prayers going and hopefully the big man upstairs hears me.”

While most of the pre-fight focus has centred on whether a unification clash between Usyk and Fury could finally occur in 2024, the mandatory challenger wants to spoil a homecoming party of sorts in Poland.

After coming through the storm of his 2020 defeat to Joe Joyce, where he took a knee which allowed himself to be counted out in the 10th round due to a hugely swollen left eye, Dubois believes he now has a date with destiny.

“My dad especially backing me and being behind me has been paramount,” he said.

“This doesn’t happen often but I am ready for this opportunity and ready to perform. That is the main thing to perform on the night.

“Go out there and show everything I have done. All the hard work I have put in and my dad has put in over the years. It is finally time.”

David Haye believes the smoothest and possibly only route to an undisputed world heavyweight title fight is by Daniel Dubois pulling off a major upset against Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.

Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, will take on mandatory challenger Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland, on Saturday after negotiations for a showdown against WBC belt holder Tyson Fury broke down earlier this year.

Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder were also at an impasse when they held the major world titles, with Lennox Lewis the last recognised undisputed champion in the division nearly a quarter of a century ago.

Competing interests have often got in the way, but Haye pointed out Dubois and Fury are both represented by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and argued a fight between the duo should be simpler to make.

Haye told the PA news agency: “It feels like we’ve had three or four opportunities where the fighters with the belts could have come together and done a deal. For whatever reason, it hasn’t materialised.

“We’re in a position where if Dubois wins on Saturday night, one promotional entity holds the champions of all of the belts – there would never be an easier time, politically, to make the undisputed fight.

“If Usyk wins, is Tyson Fury ever going to fight Usyk? I don’t know. For one reason or another, it doesn’t seem like it’s gelling. If it hasn’t happened by now, is it going to happen? Probably not.

“We want to know who’s number one. If Dubois wins then that makes it possible and the fight fans finally, after all of these years, will have one champion with all of the belts.”

Haye recognises Dubois has a mountainous challenge ahead of him, with Usyk a prohibitive favourite to retain his world titles and extend his unblemished professional record to 21 wins from as many bouts.

Usyk’s dazzling footwork and blurring hand speed from a southpaw stance has led to many suggesting the heavy-handed Dubois has just a puncher’s chance despite having height and weight advantages.

However, Haye feels Dubois (19-1, 18KOs) has nothing to lose and that his learning curves in a loss to Joe Joyce in 2020 and having to get up off the canvas three times before stopping the lightly-regarded Kevin Lerena last December are hugely beneficial for the Londoner’s chances heading into this weekend.

Haye, who alongside Usyk and Evander Holyfield are the only fighters to have won world cruiserweight and heavyweight titles, added: “I like the fact there’s no pressure on Dubois whatsoever.

“He’s got everything to gain. Nobody is expecting him to be able to cause an upset here. He has the firepower, all he needs is one punch, one clean shot.

“He had a very interesting fight against Kevin Lerena where he was put down early from a southpaw who was a former cruiserweight.

“He understands that he’s bigger and stronger but he can be hurt, that was the best thing for him because it gives him the reality of what he’s putting himself in (when he takes on Usyk).

“It looks from the outside like a mission impossible but I’m liking what I’m hearing from him – he’s talking about making it rough and uncomfortable for Usyk and that’s exactly what he needs to do.

“He may get dropped or hurt or some facial damage but he’s going to need to work through that to get to the promised land if he wants an opportunity to seriously gatecrash the heavyweight division.”

:: Watch Usyk v Dubois exclusively live on TNT Sports Box Office on Saturday 26 August. Learn more at www.tntsports.co.uk/boxoffice

Daniel Dubois has vowed to bring Oleksandr Usyk’s world heavyweight titles back to the UK as he embraces the unaccustomed role of being underdog.

Mandatory challenger Dubois will fight for the WBA, IBF and WBO belts that Usyk seized from Anthony Joshua when they clash in the 43,000-capacity Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw on August 26.

Not only is southpaw technician Usyk a pound for pound contender, but it is being staged as a home fight due to the presence of over one million of his compatriots who remain in Poland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dubois has been the favourite entering all 20 of his previous fights, but on this occasion the odds are stacked against the heavy-handed 25-year-old.

 

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“One hundred per cent I’m ready,” said Dubois, speaking at the London press conference of the fight’s media tour.

“I’m ready to rumble, this is it. Bring those titles back home, those belts are coming with me because it’s definitely my time.

“Usyk has been a great champion, but everything with a beginning has to have an end. I’m younger and stronger and have to release it all. I’m different and you guys are going to see that.

“The bookies can say what they want but there’s no pressure on me. I’m a contender and I’m ready to do what I’ve got to do. It’s been written and I’m ready to deliver. I’m in shape so let’s get it on.”

Usyk recited a Ukrainian poem about destroying one’s enemies before going on to add that he felt Dubois looked “nervous”.

“I am very happy but I am very, very hungry,” said undefeated 36-year-old Usyk, who has already conquered Dubois’ fellow Britons Joshua, Derek Chisora and Tony Bellew.

“I think really highly of my opponent. He’s a nice guy and a nice man and athlete. He came from the position of mandatory challenger so he deserves it.

“All the respect for him and his team, but let’s stop talking and see each other on August 26.”

 

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Aadam Hamed, son of former world featherweight champion Naseem Hamed, will be making his professional debut on the undercard.

“Aadam’s a future star in boxing, I really believe that. Inshallah – God willing. For me it will be like a breath of fresh air,” Naseem Hamed said.

“It’s a big, big opportunity to showcase my son’s skills. He’s very confident and has been training a long time. I’m a very, very proud father.”

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