By: Sean Crose
Let’s face it, this weekend’s heavyweight title fight between WBA, WBO, and IBF champ Oleksandr Usyk and mandatory contender Daniel Dubois is being viewed as something of an afterthought. And, frankly, that’s understandable. Usyk is a walking, talking skill set, after all. Anthony Joshua, despite what some may say, is absolutely no joke, and Usyk has defeated him twice. The Ukrainian also won his heavyweight titles after being the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world. Dubois, on the other hand, was knocked out by Joe Joyce back in 2020. The fact that Joyce went on to be defeated by Zhilei Zhang last April doesn’t do Dubois’ reputation any favors, either.
Yet writing off a fighter due to a single loss is ridiculous. The best who ever practiced the trade were defeated at times. There’s reason to question Dubois’ chances against Usyk this Saturday in Poland for other reasons outside of a lone defeat, however. Although he’s bigger than Usyk, Dubois will have to find a way to avoid being distracted by Usyk’s jab. That jab, combined with regular and effective head movement, proved to be too much Joshua (along with arguably every other previous opponent Usyk has faced). Can Dubois, who hasn’t battled the likes of Andy Ruiz and Waldimir Klistschko, as Usyk has, find a way to do what others haven’t? It’s rather difficult to imagine, as Dubois doesn’t have incredible hand speed.
It’s easy to forget that Dubois has some effective tools in his tool box, though, tools that shouldn’t be overlooked. For starters, the Englishman can employ pressure effectively. He’s a busy fighter too, which means his opponents must always stay alert, for Dubois can end the night early. Sure enough, Dubois has serious punching power. On top of that he can put his punches together fluidly. What’s more, Dubois’ body work can be very impressive. Bottom line – the guy has the power to end things early.
The question, of course, is whether or not he’ll be able to use that power effectively against Usyk. Most are guessing not, but this is boxing, a sport where pretty much anything can happen. Usyk has a lot on his mind, after all. His country is at war with Russia and a superfight with Tyson Fury has yet to happen. He’s going to want to make sure he’s zeroed in on Dubois if he doesn’t want to be shocked this weekend. Lastly, there’s the question of age. Usyk, terrific though he is, happens to be closer to forty than he is to thirty. He’s at the age where some sign of slippage wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
So no, a Usyk victory isn’t guaranteed on Saturday. Dubois better fight the fight of his life, however, if he wants to win. He also might want to hope he doesn’t face the same Usyk who has twice bested Joshua.
*Image: Queensbury Promotions
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