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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: NUTS AND BOLTS (A BELTLINE TO MADNESS)

By Paul Magno | August 28, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: NUTS AND BOLTS (A BELTLINE TO MADNESS)

Nut shot or gut shot? A 23-year-old continues his retirement tour. HOF silliness. PEDs dopiness. Here’s my mean, nasty, unfit for polite boxing company take on last week’s goings on.

– The only questions when it came to Saturday’s Oleksandr Usyk-Daniel Dubois heavyweight title fight was how would we get to that point where Dubois folded and how soon would it happen.

As I pointed out prior to the title bout from Wroclaw, Poland, I’ve never been high on Dubois as a top-level contender. The guy always has that look, like a temp at the office on his first day who just knows he's gonna fuck up big-time. You can see it in his eyes that he’s looking for a way out, even before he’s all the way in. That’s always been my take, anyway. 

As things turned out, the road to Dubois’ collapse was a more interesting and controversy-fertile one than anyone could’ve imagined when the fight was oh-well-I-guess-we-gotta-have-thised into existence  after Tyson Fury passed on a Usyk unification (yeah, he passed on Usyk).

After four easy Usyk rounds, Dubois landed a gut shot that sent the defending champ to the canvas. Referee Luis Pabon, who has a long history of sucking as a referee, ruled the punch an unintentional low blow and gave Usyk the customary five minutes to recover. 

Subsequent replays showed the punch to be right on the belt line and, therefore, totally at the discretion of Pabon-- who, I must repeat, sucks as a ref-- to rule a foul or not. While it was most definitely not a nut shot, it was still, technically, within the realm of being a low blow. Similar shots in other bouts have been ruled fair play, others have been called fouls. This one was deemed a foul. 

The online Universo Pugilistico, of course, would go apeshit about whether this was a low blow or not and whether Dubois was cheated out of his chance to become the three-belt heavyweight champ. The social media masturdebaters would amp things up even further after Dubois did his Dubois thing and stayed down for the count after being dropped by a stiff jab in the ninth round. Later, in an interview with BBC Sport, the London native would blame being “disheartened” on his collapse. 

Arguments would rage throughout the weekend, accompanied by still-shots and video clips of the same punch that, I guess, proved that the punch was low and not low, depending on who did the sharing. 

Lost in the mess was the reality that, whether it was a low blow or not, a guy who would get stiff-jabbed into submission is probably unfit to be a three-belt world champion.

Anyway, everything ultimately played out true to form in this bout. Usyk, as skilled as he is and as awesome as he was at cruiserweight, is a physically frail heavyweight who seems legitimately affected every time he’s seriously touched. Dubois, meanwhile, is mentally fragile and, most likely, has gone as high as he will go at just 25 years of age. 

– Later on Saturday, 23-year-old Jared Anderson continued on his retirement tour, starching the 39-year-old Andriy Rudenko (whose name sounds like a made-up 80s pro wrestling name for a Russian heel) in the fifth round, aided by a brutal body attack that pounded the borscht out of the Ukranian’s gut.

The only real takeaway from this stay-busy fight from Tulsa was that it’s probably not the greatest of promotional strategies from Top Rank/ESPN to push an “I won’t be fighting much longer” angle with a young fighter they’re hyping as the next big thing. I mean, seriously, I’ve been on the Anderson bandwagon since he turned pro, but constantly hearing about how he wants to get out of boxing makes me want to hop off that bandwagon. Why would I invest my time into following a fighter who wants to get out as soon as he possibly can? 

Dressing as Batman for the ring walk was also a bit of an eyeroll moment for “The Real Big Baby.” It was a throwback to the promotional doldrums of five or six years ago when a fighter wearing a mask to the ring was proof positive of his massive charisma. The Caped Crusader motif moved Twitterer extraordinaire Fred Garvin to comment, “Wow. That Batman theme really got the crowd going. I think I could hear a guy in the audience texting.” So, yeah. 

Anderson did what he was supposed to do against an opponent whose only selling point was that he didn’t get knocked out by most of those who beat the crap out of him. 

I still believe in the high-end potential of Anderson and he still has plenty of time for more developmental fights to get as good as he can be. But, again, that “I want out” talk makes me doubt whether he’s in this for the long haul. 

– Is Vasiliy Lomachenko “Hall of Fame” worthy? The question popped up on social media earlier last week and it generated some debate and discussion. I’ll preface my answer by saying that the Hall of Fame has little relevance for me and is tainted by some of the nitwits allowed to vote on induction. If I were in charge of the HOF, though, it would be a significantly more exclusive and standards would be higher to get in. In many cases, especially in recent times, induction is more about drawing audiences at the induction ceremonies and getting press.

But I digress…

Lomachenko, by modern standards, definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. While he’s “only” 17-3, he’s been fighting high-end opposition since pro fight no. 1 and his three losses have had varying degrees of dubious to them. The only thing missing from Lomachenko’s body of work are the 20 or so gimmes most fighters have in the beginning of their careers when they’re matched against club fighters, journeymen, and gatekeepers.

– Robert Helenius tested positive for a banned substance in a VADA test conducted prior to his August 12 bout with Anthony Joshua. Helenius, ironically enough, was a late replacement for Dillian Whyte, who had also tested positive for a banned substance. Helenius has since gone on social media to insist that he’s not a “cheat” and that the positive test result was for a  “non-steroid substance.”

So, again, we find out-- like in the recent Alycia Baumgardner case-- about a negative doping test result AFTER the actual fight. Seriously, it’s all rather pointless, isn’t it? Please refer back to my PEDs Column in last week’s Notes from the Boxing Underground for why I avoid the whole issue. Nobody’s serious about dealing with it, so why waste my breath? 

Congrats, however, to all of boxing's biggest stars, who never seem to pop dirty for PEDs...Apparently, only the second tier attractions are dirty! (That’s sarcasm, folks). 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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