By Charles Brun: Daniel Dubois will lose his WBA mandatory spot to challenge Oleksandr Usyk for his IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight titles if his surgically repaired knee prevents him from fighting the champion this summer.
A purse bid has been scheduled for May 25th for the Usyk-Dubois fight. If Usyk’s side loses, he’ll likely be defending against Dubois in the UK in the summer, provided Daniel makes it through training camp without his surgically repaired knee falling apart.
Although his doctor cleared the big 6’5″, 240-lb Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) to return to the ring, it’s questionable whether his knee will be strong enough to fight.
Dubois was injured in his fight last December against former cruiserweight Kevin Lerena, who dropped him three times in the first round. Lerena’s decision to stop attacking allowed the injured Dubois to come back and stop him in the third round.
It was a very odd fight Lerena would have easily knocked out Dubois if he’d attacked him in the second round, but he stopped throwing punches entirely.
“Should Dubois be unavailable to participate in the title bout with Usyk this summer, be it due to the knee or any other reason, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza told Fight Freaks Unite that Dubois would lose his position as mandatory challenger and that the organization would order Usyk to instead defend against former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, who is ranked No. 1 by the WBA,” said Dan Rafael to Fight Freaks Unite.
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) probably won’t take the fight with Usyk if the WBA orders the contest because he plans to battle Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia in December. If Wilder turns it down, the WBA will likely ask the next available contender in their rankings to face Usyk.
The guy that Usyk hopes to fight is the WBC champion Tyson Fury, but it’s questionable whether that match-up can be made.
For anyone with knee surgery, attempting to return to a sports activity after six or seven months is difficult. Dubois has never been a particularly mobile fighter even before his knee injury. Still, he could be much slower, easy to hit, and easy prey for the fast-moving southpaw Usyk.
Dubois has no choice but to take the fight with Usyk, hoping that the unified champion stands stationary in front of him so he can land his shots.
It’s not a good deal for Usyk to take a summer fight against Dubois because he could suffer an injury or get beaten. Fighting Dubois in August or September would leave Usyk very little time to rest and heal in time to fight Tyson Fury in December in Saudi Arabia.
Usyk could always vacate his WBA title to swerve Dubois, but if he does that, his fight with Fury won’t be for the undisputed, making it less attractive.