Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London - Daniel Dubois is still the WBA "regular" heavyweight champion of the world, but such a status looked heavily in doubt in the first round of his first defense against Kevin Lerena.

Dubois appeared on the brink of a shock defeat when, after being caught by the South African on the top of his head, his knee appeared to give way and he subsequently took three counts over the course of the round.

Following the instructions of Shane McGuigan, Dubois composed himself and cautiously eased his way through the next round before completing a remarkable turnaround in the third. Lerena was flattened by a clubbing right before, seconds from the bell, Dubois unleashed a barrage of shots, including a brutal left hook and right uppercut, and referee Howard Foster had seen enough, even though the bell sounded.

Dubois is going to get checked out after sensing that he was experiencing a knee issue. He seemed to voluntarily go down in the last two knockdowns.

The comeback was remarkable to those at ringside and the many watching who watched the broadcast.

"It was amazing," Dubois told BT Sport. "He caught me and I felt like my knee went. I have the heart of a warrior and listened to my team. I didn't feel it the shot [but it] must of hit me, sh!t happens.

"I was just saying get back to your boxing and calm it down. I listened to Shane and I had to recover and I came back out stronger.

"I felt a bit rusty and I felt like I wasn't even there at points."