Oleksandr Usyk was preparing for his rematch against Anthony Joshua, but with his country at war with Russia, the heavyweight boxing champion from Ukraine is focusing on much more important matters.
Therefore, at the moment, the long-awaited match has been postponed.
“We don’t want the rematch commitment to go away,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who has promoted Usyk’s past four games and will be promoting a rematch with Joshua, told ESPN. “So, we will wait as long as Oleksandr Usyk needs him during this difficult time for him.”
The 35-year-old returned last week to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and later joined a regional defense battalion. Usyk dominated Joshua by unanimous decision in September to win the Unified Heavyweight Championship, and he now owes the Englishman a rematch.
Joshua, the Olympic gold medalist, has exercised a rematch clause, which guarantees the 32-year-old another fight against Usyk on mutually agreed financial terms. Usyk-Joshua 2 is planned for May or June, but with Ukraine defending itself against a Russian invasion, it is unclear when the battle will occur.
“I don’t really know when I’ll be back in the ring,” Usek (19-0, 13 KOs) told CNN on Wednesday in comments translated into English. “My country and my honor are more important to me than the championship belt.”
Usyk, who has three children, is clearly concerned about what lies ahead, but she is also clearly committed.
“I don’t want to be shot,” he said. “I don’t want to kill anyone, but if they were to kill me, I would have no other choice.”
Hearn also told ESPN that he could book a temporary fight for Joshua if there is an extended delay.
said Hearn, who re-signed with Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) for a multi-year deal in September. “So for us, of course, the utmost respect to Oleksandr Usyk.
“We don’t want the rematch obligation to go away, so we’ll wait as long as Oleksandr Usyk needs during this difficult time for him.”
Usyk’s friend, Olympic gold medalist Vasily Lomachenko, has also joined a defensive battalion, leading to a potential June 5 match in Australia with lightweight champion George Camposos as well. Boxer Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, also took up arms, as did his brother, fellow former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“The bombing is insane,” Usik said, but “no fear.. just bewilderment. How can this be in the 21st century?”
“When there is a warning of air strikes, we hide,” he added. “[Boxing] Help me be calm and mentally prepared. It helps me help others who are experiencing panic and stress.”
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