Promoter Frank Warren is adamant in his belief that Daniel Dubois was unfairly disadvantaged by referee Luis Pabon’s decision to deem a pivotal punch as a low blow during his controversial fight with Oleksandr Usyk.

At the same time, the veteran head of Queensberry Promotions suggested that his client could have shown greater resilience after getting knocked down for a second and final time.

Last Saturday night in Wroclaw, Poland, Ukraine’s Usyk successfully defend his WBO, WBA, IBF, and IBO titles, stopping London’s Dubois in the ninth round after landing a jab that forced Dubois to take a knee, which led to referee Pabon counting Dubois out.  

But Usyk had to overcome a shaky fifth round in which Dubois landed a right hand to the body that caused Usyk to bowl over in obvious pain. Much to Warren and Team Dubois’ dismay, Pabon ruled the punch as low blow. The public’s reaction to the kerfuffle has been fierce, with opinion seemingly divided on the legitimacy of the punch.

Warren has vowed to appeal the decision by filing a protest with the WBA, which sanctioned the fight.  

In a recent interview, Warren took issue with Pabon’s conduct not only in the fifth round but also his pre-fight instructions to both fighters, which Warren found wanting. Warren also insisted that Dubois’ punch did not strike Usyk below his navel.

“The referee got it wrong,” Warren told iFL TV. “That punch was legitimate. The referee didn’t even stop to even think about it. He just said low blow. And automatically gave him three minutes and forty-six seconds of recovery time, which is well over a round. …Usyk, to his credit, said he would’ve got up if the referee hadn’t done that. And he would’ve been able to get up and box on, so you got all this time, and it was wrong.

“He got it so wrong, Pabon. I mean, he was the referee of the second [Usyk vs.] Joshua fight as well, and it was a similar situation where Joshua caught him with a good body shot and the same thing happened there. He’s also, by the way, the WBA’s official committee chairman, so he’s got to excuse himself from this appeal that we’re putting through. He won’t be able to sit on it.”

Some fans and pundits have accused Dubois of commiting boxing sacrilege by "quitting" against Usyk and have pointed to Dubois' previous defeat to Joe Joyce in 2020, when Dubois reacted similarly, taking a knee and the full 10-count.

Warren suggested that Dubois could have taken a page from WBC titlist Tyson Fury’s book as far as “grit” is concerned. Fury famously got up from a right hand blow in the 12th round in his fight with Deontay Wilder in 2018.

“He went down from two shots that no one had expected and which I would have like to see him get up from,” Warren said of Dubois. “Well he did get up for one and the second one I would’ve liked to see him get up from. What happened in that round changed the whole dynamic of the fight. And the bottom line is, if you want to be the best, you've got to want to grit your teeth and you gotta look at videos of Tyson Fury on the floor and what he did to get up and get back in the fight, cuz that’s what you got to do.

“But that doesn’t take away the fact that it was 100% a wrong decision by the referee. He did not instruct the fighters or certainly didn’t instruct Daniel or the fighters correctly and he’s got it wrong.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing