Usyk vs Dubois: Champion may produce his greatest counter-punch yet

When Daniel Dubois appears throughout the ring in Wroclaw on Saturday, he would do nicely to deal with the shark-eyed gaze obvious via him and never the sounds coming from the legions of Ukrainians within the stands – these baying for his systematic dismantling.

As a result of if Oleksandr Usyk specialises in something, it’s systematic dismantling. That’s what his travelling followers will probably be hoping to see after they cross the border from their war-torn homeland to Poland, the place their idol defends his gold and his nation’s honour this weekend.

That’s a number of motivation within the nook of Usyk – the unbeaten southpaw, the unified world heavyweight champion, the Olympic gold medalist, and the one undisputed cruiserweight title holder of his period. And if that motivation weren’t sufficient, Usyk will enter the Tarczynski Enviornment fueled by residual frustration from his failed struggle with Tyson Fury.

In an excellent world, Usyk, now nearer to 37 than 36, would have fought the WBC champion three months in the past; an undisputed king would have been topped and a rematch may need even been scheduled by now. As a substitute, Fury is 2 months out from a weird bout with ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou, who’s making his skilled boxing debut and isn’t eligible to win the Briton’s WBC belt; and Usyk is on the cusp of a defence towards necessary challenger Dubois.

Then once more, in an excellent world, Usyk’s nation wouldn’t be underneath continued assaults from Russia. That may at the very least imply that the champion could be staging this defence towards Dubois in Ukraine, reasonably than in Poland. Actuality dictates, nevertheless, that Usyk’s followers will journey to Wroclaw in the hunt for some temporary escapism. Usyk, who volunteered on the frontline in Ukraine final 12 months, is aware of the accountability and alternative he possesses this weekend. He was conscious of it when he fought Anthony Joshua – for the second time – final summer season, and that was obvious when he collapsed to his knees after securing victory, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag and soaked in tears and sweat.

Such feelings will solely be heightened on Saturday, in entrance of the followers who needed to watch from a distance when Usyk outpointed Joshua in August. On Saturday, Usyk will once more stand throughout from a British heavyweight, one with formidable energy however whose technical talents and velocity don’t, in all honesty, measure as much as the previous cruiserweight’s.

Dubois, 25, faces his hardest check yet towards Usyk in Poland

(Motion Pictures by way of Reuters)

The enigmatic Usyk stays a unicorn at heavyweight, balletic in motion however brutal in his sheer effectivity of output. Then there are the angles he creates, which danger leaving Dubois stupefied like a major college pupil in a college geometry class. Consider it or not, that isn’t truly meant as an indictment of Dubois, who has greater than the puncher’s likelihood that some have prompt; nevertheless, the reality is that the 25-year-old has not fought an opponent near Usyk’s calibre, not to mention one with this distinctive of a skillset.

Dubois has achieved 18 of his 19 professional wins by way of knockout, whereas his sole defeat got here in 2020, by the hands of Joe Joyce – fingers which battered Dubois’s eye socket to the purpose of fracture. Dubois hit the canvas that evening and did the identical in his final struggle – thrice in reality, all within the first spherical. On that event, towards Kevin Lerena in December, it was Dubois’s knee that betrayed him, however the Briton managed to struggle via the harm to cease his opponent in Spherical 3. Combating unsteadily on one leg, Dubois someway conjured the ability to drop Lerena with a proper cross, earlier than ending him with a barrage of hooks and uppercuts towards the ropes.

The optimistic to be taken from that outing is {that a} wholesome Dubois wields even better energy; the query, although, is whether or not Dubois will keep wholesome throughout 12 rounds with Usyk, who appears nicely poised to take advantage of the youthful fighter’s vulnerabilities.

Usyk provided a shocking second of levity at his first press convention with Dubois


When the pair got here head to head at a pre-fight press convention in July, Dubois vowed to unleash “hell”. Usyk, in the meantime, recited a poem and a rap. That may have foreshadowed the dynamic of this fundamental occasion reasonably nicely: Dubois, as his coach Don Charles has admitted, should make this a chaotic affair. In distinction, Usyk will possible make use of his common artistry to undo his challenger and put Dubois himself via hell.

Agonised by the grave matter of struggle in his homeland and the extra trivial issue of frustration with Fury, Usyk will probably be riled up in Wroclaw. If any fighter can grasp that emotion and harness it properly, it’s Usyk.

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