Usyk determined to make Ukrainians proud in Joshua rematch

By Sports Desk August 16, 2022

Oleksandr Usyk is determined to do his fellow Ukrainians proud when he faces Anthony Joshua on Saturday and vowed to help them in any way he can.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September to win the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight titles.

The 35-year-old will defend his belts for the first time in a rematch with the Briton in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Usyk has been involved in a battle that is much bigger than any boxing fight since he became world champion, returning to his homeland to defend his country following Russia's invasion.

He has set up the Usyk Foundation to support humanitarian aid for Ukrainians in need of medical care, shelter and food.

Usyk has also ensured his second bout with Joshua in Jeddah will be free to watch for the people of his war-torn country and he hopes to put on a show for his compatriots.

"I want to help my people and my country and Saturday night is going to be a small party for them, maybe a big party," he told Sky Sports.

"I will do my best to give the best performance that I can.

"It's important because the war is taking place and we have to help people. Whether they need food, we supply them with food. Whether they need anything else, we have to help them.

"Because this is something that is happening in our hearts and our assignment is to keep positive and keep other people positive.

"I have a group of people who work hard to find families in need. Maybe they need some kind of house to live, some food to support, maybe some money to spend for their families.

"They are looking for these people, they are analysing what are their needs and they help in satisfying their needs. This is something that they do every day and this is something that will be done in the future because this is actually the mission of the foundation."

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    Tyson Fury voiced his frustration after suffering the first defeat of his career to Oleksandr Usyk in their undisputed world heavyweight title fight in Saudi Arabia.

    Usyk won by split decision to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, and the first to unite all four belts.

    The scorecards read 115-112 and 114-113 in favour of Usyk, while a third judge scored 114-113 to Fury.

    After an even start, the momentum shifted in a brilliant ninth round for the Ukrainian as he caught Fury with a left hook, forcing the referee to give him a standing count before the bell saved him from a further onslaught.

    A defiant Fury was not happy with the result, suggesting that Usyk received a sympathy vote from the judges.

    "I believe I won that fight," he said in the ring. "I believe he won a few of the rounds, but I won the majority.

    "His country is at war, so people are siding with the country at war. Make no mistake, I won that fight, in my opinion.

    "It was one of the daftest decisions in boxing. We run it back in October. I'm not going to sit here and cry and make excuses."

    Usyk remained undefeated as he took Fury’s WBC belt to add to his WBA, WBO and IBF collection.

    "Thank you so much for my team. It's a big opportunity for my family, for my country," an emotional Usyk said afterwards. "I'm very happy.

    "My people will be very happy. I think it's a big win, not only for me, it's a big win for my country, for soldiers who now defend my country.

    "I think my father now is watching over me and is very happy. Dad, I love you. I can, you told me I can."

  • John Fury appears to headbutt member of Team Usyk ahead of undisputed bout John Fury appears to headbutt member of Team Usyk ahead of undisputed bout

    Tyson Fury's father John Fury was left with a nasty cut on his face after appearing to headbutt a member of Oleksandr Usyk's entourage at a pre-fight media day on Monday.

    WBC belt-holder Fury will face Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, with both men defending undefeated professional records.

    With both fighters and their camps present at a hotel in the city for media duties on Monday, the build-up to their bout – the most eagerly anticipated in the heavyweight division in recent years – got off to a chaotic start.

    Fury's father was pictured with blood running down his forehead after becoming involved in an altercation with a man wearing a Team Usyk tracksuit.

    Widely shared footage on social media appeared to show him headbutting the man, who then had to be restrained by other members of Usyk's entourage.

    It was later reported that the Saudi Arabian authorities were aware of the incident but did not plan to take any action.    

  • Joshua expects to fight at Wembley in September with Zhang or Wilder lined up Joshua expects to fight at Wembley in September with Zhang or Wilder lined up

    Anthony Joshua expects to return to Wembley Stadium for his next fight in September, with either Zhilei Zhang or Deontay Wilder lined up as his opponent.

    Joshua stopped Francis Ngannou in the second round in March, his fourth straight win since suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022. 

    His last two fights have been held in Saudi Arabia, but as he inches closer to a shot at regaining the titles he lost to Usyk three years ago, he is eyeing a return to his native London.

    "It'll be some date between September 20 and September 25. Whenever they tell me there's a date, you know I'll be ready 100 per cent," Joshua told TalkSport of his next fight.

    "It's going be in London, Wembley Stadium, this is what I'm being told. If this is what they say, they usually stick to their word."

    Pushed on possible opponents, he said the result of Zhang's upcoming bout with Wilder – who was scheduled to face Joshua in March only for those plans to be derailed by a shock defeat to Joseph Parker – will be decisive.

    "On June 1 in Saudi Arabia, they've got Filip Hrgovic versus Daniel Dubois and Zhilei Zhang versus Deontay Wilder. Out of that pool, that's who I'll be fighting."

    On Wilder, Joshua added: "If he looks good, that'll reignite that flame that he had. Boxing is all about perception, so I pray he does his thing and Zhang does his thing, and I'm ready."

    There has also been plenty of talk about Joshua facing Tyson Fury in an all-British tussle in recent years. The WBC heavyweight champion faces Usyk in a huge unification bout next month, and with a two-way rematch clause present in their deal, they are likely to face off twice before the year is out.

    When those obligations have been met, Joshua will be waiting, saying: "I know the fans want that big fight with Fury, but he's got his obligations with Usyk. 

    "They're working on it but I've just got to stay focused, stay disciplined, steamroller through opponents and get closer and closer to having a fight with Fury. Hopefully that'll be in London as well."

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