Daniel Dubois’ fractured left eye will heal, but the damage done to his reputation will take longer to repair.
Although Dubois suffered a broken orbital bone and nerve damage, the harsh reality is he quit against Joe Joyce.
He was not pulled out by his corner or stopped by referee Ian John-Lewis. He simply went down on one knee and let himself be counted out as he could not see out of his swollen left eye properly.
Quitting is a cardinal sin for a fighter and his surrender jarred with David Haye, who had carried on against Tony Bellew in their first fight with a ruptured Achilles. The former WBA heavyweight champion, who summarised the fight for BT Sport, said: “It just doesn’t look good, the way he took a knee. As a fighter, you want to go out on your shield.”
Joyce graciously tried not to join the criticism as the likes of Dillian Whyte, Paul Smith and Matthew Macklin waded in on social media.
Yet the new British, Commonwealth and European champion admitted he would never quit and hinted it could be a long road back for Dubois.
“Maybe it doesn’t bode well for him,” said Joyce, as he stood with the European belt strapped proudly around his waist. “He’s good at giving a punch, but maybe not so good at taking a punch. I’d go to the end, unless I was getting pinged and there was no point in continuing.
“But I would prefer to go out on my shield rather than stop the fight like that. Look at David Haye and the courage he had to fight on one leg. He was still throwing punches. He’s a warrior.”
Dubois, 23, tried to explain himself before being taken from Church House in Westminster to Moorfield Eye Hospital, where he spent the night. “It just happened,” he said. “I can’t explain it. I couldn’t see out of my eye.”
Scans revealed the extent of the damage to his eye and a specialist will tell him today if he needs surgery. It remains to be seen if the damage Dubois has suffered in his first pro loss is more psychological than physiological, and trainer Martin Bowers must rebuild him.
Joyce, who improves to 12-0, deserved his success and upset Dubois with his laser-guided jab and granite chin.
“All I had to do was work with the jab,” he said. “I didn’t want to risk trading as he’s a heavy puncher. So I thought I would keep it smart and box him. I boxed his head off.”
He did just that, peppering Dubois’ face to close his left eye, while swallowing every shot he took in return.
Joyce broke Dubois’ heart as early as the second round when he withstood a couple of powerful lefts and stinging overhand rights. Dubois, 23, must have felt he was trying to stop a tank with a peashooter and he never had Joyce in trouble. He’d had enough by the 10th, even though he was up on two scorecards and behind in one, and went down on one knee after yet another jab to his left eye.
He waited for John-Lewis to count him out before slowly rising to his feet a beaten man. Superman had been defeated by the Kryponite in Joyce’s chin and jab.
“There’s only a small circle of elite fighters in heavyweight boxing and I believe I’m in that circle,” said Joyce.
Few will disagree after this.