Oleksandr Usyk might produce his biggest counter but towards Daniel Dubois

When Daniel Dubois seems to be throughout the ring in Wroclaw on Saturday, he would do properly to give attention to the shark-eyed gaze obvious by him and never the sounds coming from the legions of Ukrainians within the stands – these baying for his systematic dismantling.

Because if Oleksandr Usyk specialises in something, it’s systematic dismantling. That is what his travelling followers shall 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 is 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 Arena fueled by residual frustration from his failed battle with Tyson Fury.

In a great 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. Instead, 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 a great world, Usyk’s nation wouldn’t be below continued assaults from Russia. That would possibly at the very least imply that the champion can be staging this defence towards Dubois in Ukraine, quite than in Poland. Reality dictates, nevertheless, that Usyk’s followers will journey to Wroclaw seeking some transient 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 time, 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 skills and velocity don’t, in all honesty, measure as much as the previous cruiserweight’s.

Dubois, 25, faces his hardest take a look at but towards Usyk in Poland

(Action Images through 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 main faculty pupil in a college geometry class. Believe it or not, that’s not really meant as an indictment of Dubois, who has greater than the puncher’s likelihood that some have instructed; 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 through knockout, whereas his sole defeat got here in 2020, by the hands of Joe Joyce – arms which battered Dubois’s eye socket to the purpose of fracture. Dubois hit the canvas that evening and did the identical in his final battle – thrice in actual fact, 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 battle by the harm to cease his opponent in Round 3. Fighting unsteadily on one leg, Dubois one way or the other conjured the facility 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 larger energy; the query, although, is whether or not Dubois will keep wholesome throughout 12 rounds with Usyk, who seems to be properly poised to use the youthful fighter’s vulnerabilities.

Usyk supplied 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 need foreshadowed the dynamic of this fundamental occasion quite properly: Dubois, as his coach Don Charles has admitted, should make this a chaotic affair. In distinction, Usyk will seemingly make use of his regular artistry to undo his challenger and put Dubois himself by hell.

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

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