Oleksandr Usyk will enjoy an uninterrupted path to the next title fight of his choosing.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBA ruled against an appeal filed by Queensberry Promotions, who sought to have the verdict overturned in Usyk’s ninth-round knockout of Daniel Dubois. An independent panel reviewed the fight to determine if there was any wrongdoing on the part of referee Luis Pabon and ultimately voted to uphold the in-ring result of their August 26 WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight title fight in Wroclaw, Poland.
“After careful review of the appeal, the reply, all documents, and evidence presented by both the appellant and respondent, the report of the supervisor, and the report of the International Officials Committee, the Championships Committee has determined that the appellant has not met his burden of proof in having the Committee set aside the result of the Usyk-Dubois bout,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez noted in the official ruling, a copy of which was obtained by Boxing Scene. “Therefore, the bout decision will not be set aside.”
The contention on the part of London’s Dubois (19-2, 18KOs), through Queensberry, largely stemmed from the actions of Pabon during a fifth round sequence. Dubois connected with a body shot that—in real time—appeared to be a legal blow which forced Ukraine’s Usyk (21-0, 14KOs). The official ruling was a low blow, with replays supporting the judgement call, though Pabon was publicly chastised by viewers and also Dubois’ team for encouraging Usyk to take the full five-minute period to recover, despite the unbeaten two-division champ expressing a willingness to resume action much earlier.
Usyk went on to twice drop and ultimately knock Dubois out at 0:48 of round nine.
Queensberry’s Andy Ayling contacted the WBA on September 4 to inform that an appeal was going to be filed to have the outcome reversed. Hired legal counsel Alex Dombroff formally filed the appeal one day later on September 5, in which QP alleged “errors in judgement made by the bout’s referee” and that Dubois “was unjustly denied of his rightful status as unified world heavyweight champion.”
Usky’s team acknowledged receipt of the appeal on September 12 and formally replied through attorney John Hornewer on September 18. In its reply, it was rightly questioned why Dubois and QP opted to file an appeal with the WBA rather than the local commission who would have proper jurisdiction over such a matter.
That said, all involved permitted due process to run its course.
Carlos Ortiz, Jr. (IBF), Ed Levine (IBO), Thomas Puetz (WBO), and Jesper D. Jensen (WBA) were assigned to review the bout.
“As the WBA supervisor, Mr. Jensen has advised the committee that the referee, Mr. Luis Pabon, made the
correct decision with regard to the blow,” noted Chavez. “During the bout, Mr. Pabon informed Mr. Jensen that he
considered the blow to be accidental. In addition to the opinion of the supervisor, the WBA asked its International Officials Committee to review the appeal, the reply, and videotape recordings of the 5th round. That Committee reported on 11 September 2023 to the Championships Committee that the President that “there is no clear and conclusive video evidence that the original call of a low blow in round five declared by Referee Mr. Luis Pabon was made in error.”
“The Committee further concluded that none of the television tape recordings had convincing evidence that the referee’s “call of a low blow was incorrect.” That Committee concluded that “the original call of the low blow should stand as there is not indispensable evidence to prove otherwise.” The Committee report was signed by Raul Caiz, Jr., Vice Chairman of the International Officials Committee.”
Usyk was credited with the second defense of his unified heavyweight title reign. The win over Dubois—who was the WBA ‘Regular’ titlist prior to their title consolidation bout—satisfied a mandatory title defense, thus the Hail Mary attempt on behalf of QP to keep the Brit in the mix.
Instead, Usyk can now move forward with his planned full unification bout versus lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs). The bout is reportedly signed by both boxers, with the confirming date pending the outcome of Fury’s novelty bout versus former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou on October 28 in Riydah, Saudi Arabia.
The bout will mark Ngannou’s pro debut. Fury’s WBC title is not at stake, which means he merely needs to escape unscathed to proceed with the first undisputed heavyweight championship clash of the 21st century.
As for Dubois, it is all the way back to the drawing board after his second decisive knockout defeat. He’d previously won four in a row, all inside the distance after a tenth-round knockout loss to Joe Joyce in their November 2020 battle of unbeaten British heavyweights.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox