Daniel Dubois dropped Oleksandr Usyk in his world title challenge this past weekend, but the shot on the champion was immediately ruled a low blow.
It was the Brit’s one pocket of success. He lost momentum quickly thereafter and would go on to be stopped in the ninth round by a Usyk with a little more urgency than fans have seen before.
Despite an otherwise dominating performance from the Ukrainian, many in the sport feel Dubois was wronged when he was given ample time to recover from the shot. That, it turns out, includes Hall of Fame referee, Joe Cortez.
Cortez helmed over 170 world title bouts in boxing, keeping fighters like Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on the right side of the rules.
He was the third man in the ring when ‘Big George’ Foreman regained the world heavyweight title at the age of 45-years-old.
The fighter-turned-official gave his thoughts on the matter in an interview with Fight Hub TV.
“To me that punch was right on the belt, it wasn’t a punch for him to get all that time. I would’ve gave a warning and let it continue, but I would not have given him five minutes for that. I don’t think it was intentional.”
Cortez praised Pabon as an official, but said the confusion may have begun even before the first bell.
“Good referee, Luis Pabon. I think with the language barrier he didn’t tell them exactly what was wrong with low blows … all of these things, you address is in the dressing room, you don’t have time inside the ring prior to the fight. But you gotta make sure to have a good interpreter to explain it carefully.”
He said that, for him, the shot was not low, and believes Usyk may have milked it for a bit of a rest.
“That was in the fifth round, and when you’re fighting the cup raises up a little bit more. So I would have not called that a low bow, but he got away with it, the referee should’ve said no. If he’d have started counting, the guy probably would’ve jumped up.”
Cortez did say that hindsight and replays can’t compare to Pabon’s immediate reaction in the ring, and that there are many variables that may have influenced his call.