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‘It looked like it was a legal punch’: Joe Cortez reacts to Oleksandr Usyk vs Daniel Dubois

The longtime referee gives his take on the controversial low blow call, saying he doesn’t think Usyk should’ve been afforded a five minute timeout.

Veteran referee Joe Cortez believes Daniel Dubois’ shot on Oleksandr Usyk shouldn’t have been ruled a low blow.
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

With lost of debate regarding what took place during Oleksandr Usyk’s stoppage win over Daniel Dubois over the weekend, specifically relating to the hotly debated low blow call, veteran referee Joe Cortez gives his take on what took place while talking to Fight Hub TV.

Cortez on Dubois’ debated low blow on Usyk

“I don’t what happened Saturday with Usyk, but to me that punch was right on the belt. It was not a punch for him to get like a whole lot of time. I would’ve gave a warning, give a warning, let it continue. I would not give him five minutes for that.

“I mean, I do not think it was intentional. If it was intentional then you start taking points automatically. There are no warnings when it’s intentional.

“The referee, good referee, Luis Pabon, I think either they didn’t get clarified with him because of the language barrier...you study a fighter before you referee their fights. I notice the tendencies of using their head a lot, a tendency of hitting low, a tendency of spitting out the mouthpiece intentionally. So all these things you address in the dressing room, you do not have time to do that inside the ring.

“The punches on the belt will no be considered to be low blows because as you’re fighting — that was in the fifth round — and when you’re fighting the cup raises up a little bit more. So I would’ve not called that really a low blow. But he got away with it, the referee should’ve said ‘no, that was not a low blow, that was a legal punch.’ If you would’ve started counting, you know what, the guy probably would’ve jumped up. He probably would’ve jumped up and continued.”

On making that kind of call in real time without the benefit of TV replay

“When you’re watching on TV it’s different than when you’re in person. I don’t know what angle Luis Pabon had, was he on the blind side, did he actually see it clearly that he saw a low blow. I mean, a low blow is when you get hit really down in your groin area. That’s really considered low. On the belt line, you know, that’s sort of ‘boys, keep ‘em up, keep ‘em up.’ I’ve done that with Holyfield vs Riddick Bowe, where there were punches on the belt, I say ‘alright, keep ‘em up.

“It looked like it was a legal punch. Again, like I said, it hit him on the cup, on the top of the cup...sometimes the cup rises up a little bit. That’s why I say sometimes the cup goes up, you hit him with a punch right at the belly button, you know, that’s still a good punch. The cup is right there but the cup went up maybe two inches above the belly button.

“And that’s why the referee got to say ‘wait a minute, I told you punches here were good.’ Now the cup rises up an inch or two inches, three inches — I’ve seen a cup go up as high as four inches on a fighter.”

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