The stabbing agony of a broken eye socket will be as nothing to Daniel Dubois compared with the anguish in his mind.
The psychological hurt of the barbs which hounded the young pretender to the world heavyweight championship out of a cloistered Westminster Church House on Saturday night will live with him far longer than the damage to his left orbital socket.
The road to mental recovery from his surrender to Joe Joyce will be more arduous and less certain than his medical rehab.
Daniel Dubois’ left eye was severely damaged by Joe Joyce in Saturday’s fight in London
That journey will be protracted and daunting. If it is to end in redemption he will have to keep in his mind an image of Joyce performing the somersault trademark of his Olympian days as he cartwheeled towards what he hopes will be a world title future of his own.
Dubois will need motivation that acute to deal with this litany of condemnation from hardened ring professionals which followed his taking of a knee and a 10-count 36 seconds into the 10th round of their British, Commonwealth and European title fight: ‘Once a quitter, always a quitter. Like Kell Brook, too much knee-taking these days. Coward. Better to be carried out on your shield. His eye? I didn’t like what I saw.’
The latter from David Haye, who kept taking his punishment from Tony Bellew after a ruptured achilles tendon left him barely able to stand.
Dubois was put down by a jab in the tenth and failed to get up to beat the count
Joyce did his best to be magnanimous in victory achieved by persistently ram-rodding his jab into the face of the youngster. Even as he absorbed the power punches which had made Dubois a heavy favourite to knock him out en route to challenging Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua late next year.
At first, Joyce said: ‘Maybe it was smart to stop and live to fight another day. Don’t forget it takes a lot to get into a ring.’ But when pressed to the point he added: ‘Me? I would always fight on to the end.’
A pantheon of heroes have fought on with broken jaws, ribs, shoulders, hands. Cut eyes. Ruptured eardrums and spleens.
To pluck just two heavyweight examples from an endless catalogue of courage: Joe Frazier raged against his trainer for refusing to let him go out for the 15th and final round of his epic third fight against Muhammad Ali even though he could not see at all with both eyes swollen shut.
Joe Joyce caused a big upset as he stopped Dubois in the tenth round on Saturday night
Vitali Klitschko ranted at the referee for stopping his war with Lennox Lewis despite his eyes being slashed to the whites of the bone and his loss of two to three pints of blood.
Had Dubois kept going he might well have won, even though he said: ‘I could barely see out of the eye.’
Although behind 87-84 on one of the official cards, the two other judges had him ahead 86-85, as did I, and 88-83.
He added: ‘I can’t explain.’ As well as wounded, he seemed bewildered by Joyce’s ability to withstand the punches which had flattened all but one of his preceding opponents.
Dubois suffered a bad eye injury and was unable to get up after being put down by a jab
Joyce said: ‘I may well have the best chin in boxing. Not that I want to keep testing it like that. I felt his power but I used my extra experience and better ring-craft to keep away from any follow-ups. I stuck to the gameplan and carried on jabbing his head off. Make that jabbing his eye off!’
That contrast between bursts of full-blooded onslaught and time-honoured basics did make for one of the most watchable British heavyweight title fights for many a year and promoter Frank Warren ventured: ‘Who wouldn’t want to see a rematch in front of fans at the O2 next year?’
Joyce answered: ‘Well, maybe if the public call for it and it helps secure the financial future for me and my family. But my eyes are really set on the world title to fully make up for being robbed of my Olympic gold medal in Rio. Give me Usyk, Usyk, Usyk.’
Once would be enough, he believes, having seen the brilliant and only undisputed world cruiserweight champion look undersized at heavyweight despite outpointing Derek Chisora.
Joyce celebrated with his trademark summersault – and now has a world title shot in his sights
But that division is complicated and that fight would require Joshua to vacate his WBO belt in preference for a mega-fight with Fury.
Of Dubois, Warren said: ‘He had to go to Moorfields Hospital because the eye was a serious issue. But he’s still a kid so of course he will come again.’
Yes, at 23 he is young enough. As long as this lesson is truly heartfelt.
For Joyce, at 35, this giant leap has come just in time.
Dubois took a knee in tenth after another jab to his left eye and was unable to beat the count
The victory saw Joyce claim the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles