Britannia Waives The Rules! Timekeeper Rang Bell 12 Seconds Early Round One Dubois-Lerena, Ref Ends Fight After Bell in Round Three, UK Waives WBA 3 Knockdown Rule

Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Britannia waives the rules! That is a line from the well-known patriotic song ‘Rule Britannia’. Last Saturday’s World Boxing Association Regular World Heavyweight title bout between champion Daniel Dubois and challenger Kevin Lerena had three sparkles of incompetence, including a major bout-ending WBA rule being waived before the bout.

Under World Boxing Association by-laws applying to world championship rules, three knockdowns in one round ends the bout. This being the case, Kevin Lerena theoretically scored a first-round stoppage of Daniel Dubois by automatic first-round TKO.

However, even though the southpaw challenger Lerena, now 18-2 with 14 knockouts, Johannesburg, South Africa, knocked down WBA Regular World Heavyweight champion Daniel Dubois of London three times in the first round at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, December 3, 2022, the first element of the bout’s controversy occurred when the BBBof C British Boxing Board of Control overruled the WBA world championship rules before the world heavyweight title bout, waiving and overruling the WBA mandatory three knockdown rule in a round distinction which ends the contest. Shades of Archie Moore coming off the canvas three times in the first round against Yvon Durelle in Canada, and London Bridges Falling Down (another song), United Kingdom London darling Daniel Dubois went down and got up three times and continued on his merry old way.

In another occurrence of incompetence, the timekeeper rang the bell 12 seconds too soon, as Dubois got up after the third knockdown, enabling Dubois to get out of the first round quicker, which gave him immediate and extra recovery time in his corner. Lerena should have had valuable time remaining on the first round clock to finish off Dubois after scoring the third knockdown. Was the time clock mistake an oversight on the part of the timekeeper? That is the unanswered question.

After an uneventful second round in which Lerena did not floor the gas pedal, Dubois stormed back to knock down Lerena twice in the third round, who, like Dubois, beat the count, and he beat the count both times. What occurred next was more interesting. The bell ending round three had already sounded, and Lerena had already arisen and beaten the count. Referee Howard Foster then decided to wave off the fight, but the contest was waved off at 3:00 of round three in center ring AFTER the bell rang despite the round already being over, the referee ignoring the bell and not allowing Lerena the benefit of the third round’s end to go to his corner for recovery, as he had allowed Dubois to do after the shortened first round.

Whereas Greg Page versus Gerrie Coetzee was a championship bout which ended more than a minute after it was supposed to, with Coetzee getting knocked out by page at 4:10 of the tenth round by referee Isidro Perez at the Sunbowl in Sun City, South Africa, in Tottenham, time clock incompetence was in. There is no fault leveled at Dubois, just the issue of the incompetence of the timekeeper is at stake. There should be an investigation and an appeal regarding this mistake, in this reporters’ view. Promoters protect their investment. The only other times I can compare with this so-called error of incompetence in ringing the bell on time occurring previously was when a Danish timekeeper rang the ninth round early, which enabled the then 48-0 Brian Nielsen to survive the round Nielsen was still stopped by veteran Dickie Ryan in the next round, the tenth round. In another twist, the great Joe Louis, on his rise to the heavyweight title, stopped Max Baer after the bell at 3:09 of the fourth round, an error similar to the ending of Dubois versus Lerena.

How well would Dubois hold up against main event competition? Joe Joyce already answered that question by knocking out Dubois in ten rounds. Overall, after seeing Dubois decked three times in the first round by Lerena, a blown up 200 pounds IBO former world cruiserweight champion, with the result of this WBA heavyweight regular ‘title’ bout, it would be hard to believe Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Andy Ruiz Jr., Felip Hrgovic, Dilllian Whyte, Derekc Chisora, Frank Sanchez, Luis Ortiz or any other top heavyweights today would hesitate to fight China-chinned Dubois now.

Saturday’s timekeeper reinforced the notion Dubois’ future in the heavyweight division right now remains a question mark. Did somebody at ringside have the timekeeper ring the bell early to save Dubois, or was it an unintentional mistake or not? We will never know the answer or the culprit.