Boxing

Klitschko brothers back Usyk to beat Anthony Joshua.

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Usyk has made the difficult decision to leave his combat unit in the fight against Russia, to prepare for his heavyweight rematch with Anthony Joshua this summer.

But he will heartened by the support of Vitali, the mayor of Kyiv, and his brother, Wladimir, who has also taken up arms to defend his city.

Usyk, the unified world heavyweight champ enlisted in the Kyiv Territorial Defence, with photos on social media showing him dressed in full military gear, following Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion.
However, as reported by Sportsmail, Usyk left Ukraine last week after being given permission by their ministry of defence.

And now, the Klitschko brothers, who dominated world heavyweight boxing from 2004 to 2015, have endorsed Usyk’s decision and insisted that the publicity he will generate for Ukraine in the months ahead will be crucial in the country’s struggle for survival.

‘We do not know if in three months we will exist. I actually have plans to speak to Oleksandr Usyk to give him advice if he decides to make the fight, to have some special messages that he can put out there,’ added the former boxer, 50, who held the WBO World Heavyweight title from 1999 to 2000 and the WBC title twice between 2004 and 2013, in an interview with the Telegraph.

Last week, Vitali, or Dr Iron Fist, as he was known in the ring, took time to thank Mail readers for their support of Ukraine. Mail Force appeal has so far raised £8.5million for Ukraine’s refugees.

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While able bodied men aged 18 to 60 are under orders to stay within the borders and fight for the country, Usyk has been granted an exemption ‘in the national interest.’

Usyk is contractually obliged to meet Joshua for a second time in his next contest, having ripped the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles from his grasp back in September.

Usyk outclassed the Brit over 12 rounds and came close to stopping him in the dying seconds, before settling for a wide unanimous-decision victory on the scorecards.

Joshua then triggered his rematch clause and a London date in the summer was mooted prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is believed Usyk will be put through his paces in preparation for the fight at a gym at Oxnard, just outside Los Angeles, where he and Lomachenko have trained in the past.

Fellow Ukraine boxer Vasyl Lomachenko was offered a similar release to Usyk, only to turn down a potential showdown with unified lightweight champion, George Kambosos Jr, in order to continue fighting on the front line.

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