By Steve Kim Updated on August 28, 2023

How Low of a Blow?

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Oleksandr Usyk retained his trio of  heavyweight belts (WBA, WBO and IBF) on Saturday in Poland by stopping Daniel Dubois in nine rounds. But some will argue that he was really stopped in the fifth as he was felled by a punch that -- depending on your perspective, biases, wagers, and/or promotional/network allegiances -- was either a low blow, or a legitimate body punch.

Opinions are all over the place when it comes to this particular shot that had Usyk on his back, and writhing in pain for a few minutes. 

It has set off countless debates on social media, and some have broken down this sequence frame-by-frame as if it were the Zapruder Film. You seen screen shots of that punch, and reverse angles, and then alternate angles of the reverse angles. 

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There are two distinct camps. One that believes that it was a foul, and that Usyk was well within his rights to the timeout. The other believes it was a clean body shot on the belt-line, and that Usyk should've been counted out by referee, Luis Pabon.

OK, so you want my opinion (and I assume that you do given that you are here), well, I happen to think that both can be true.

Picture for How Low of a Blow?Josh Taylor Twitter

Yes, to the letter of the law, it was a low blow. Dubois' punch landed on the trunks. But it wasn't necessary a 'low, low blow' if you catch my drift. Lets put it this way, if Usyk would've just kept fighting on, Pabon may have just let the fight proceed naturally. But since he reacted in the manner he did, Pabon intervened. You see that a lot where referee's are emboldened by the reactions and complaints of the A-side/house fighter on otherwise borderline blows.

On the flipside, yes, Usyk milked it for all its worth. It's clear -- whether that punch was legal or not -- it certainly had an impact on the Ukrainian. I'd argue that if Pabon would have begun a count, that Usyk would've have suddenly found the strength and fortitude to rise from the canvas. Yeah, hearing the mandatory eight seems to have the effect of getting touched by Benny Hinn to many boxers in that position.


Picture for How Low of a Blow?Matt Macklin


What makes this situation maddening for Dubois supporters is that Usyk was actually told to take more time to recover from Pabon. Which is mighty nice of him but it raises question if he overstepped his bounds as the third man in the ring, who is supposed to be neutral. (By the way, that's a rhetorical question).

Finally this is not a black or white issue. Many times as the competing boxers meet in the center of the ring, the referee will point out that he will allow a certain area on the trunks that he will deem as legal. Many times boxers will wear protectors that will rise well above the navel. In this particular instance, Joe Tessitore (who called the action on ESPN+) pointed out that Pabon made no such concessions.

As for the fight itself, much of it was controlled by the superior technical acumen of Usyk, who kept chipping away at the naturally bigger Dubois. But it has to be noted, there was visible discomfort when Usyk was touched downstairs by the heavy handed Brit. When asked about his opponents power, Usyk answered as he only can, ''No, only in my balls." 

All the Angles of Oleksandr Usyk Knockout Victory of Dubois To Keep Heavyweight Belts | HIGHLIGHTS


Usyk sent Dubois down to the canvas in round eight, and then again in round nine. The second knockdown was from a jab that sent Dubois to his knees, where he was eventually counted out. It wasn't just the steady stream of leather that stopped Dubois, but the mental pressure he was under. 

Picture for How Low of a Blow?Carl Frampton Twitter

For all the controversy and debate over what took place in the fifth, the fact of the matter is that Usyk dominated much of this contest.



Meanwhile in Tulso, Jared Anderson stopped Andriy Rudenko in five rounds on the ESPN main event... The co-feature so Zhan Kossobutskiy was DQ'd against Efe Ajagba for, guess what?  Yeah, low blows. And these were much more of the Golota variety....Bruce Carrington is a sharp boxer...Abdullah Mason got some tough, quality rounds against Cesar Villarraga....Sam Hartman gives Notre Dame a shot to win every game this season.... Zachariah Branch looks like the next offensive superstar for USC and Lincoln Riley....I can be reached at




About Author
How Low of a Blow?
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.