Oleksandr Usyk: I dream that Tyson Fury fight will take place in Ukraine

In a chat with Firstpost, Usyk discusses his victory over Anthony Joshua in their rematch in Saudi Arabia, a 'dream' bout with fellow undefeated boxer Tyson Fury and his role in helping war-affected people back home in Ukraine.

Amit Banerjee September 24, 2022 18:24:06 IST
Oleksandr Usyk: I dream that Tyson Fury fight will take place in Ukraine

Ukrainian professional boxer Oleksandr Usyk. Image: Parimatch

Oleksandr Usyk sure is glad to be back home in Ukraine with multiple heavyweight titles around his waist after his recent victory over Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia, his second victory over the British boxer on the trot.

What has made the weeks following his victory over Joshua – which helped the Ukrainian pugilist retain his WBA, WBO, IBF, and IBO heavyweight titles – even more special is the fact that he is back at his residence in the town of Vorzel on the outskirts of Kyiv that was captured by the Russian forces, and subsequently trashed by soldiers.

Usyk shared pictures of himself and wife Yekaterina at his family home with the Ukrainian flag flying on his Instagram story not too long ago and has since joined the local territorial force in Kyiv.

Things certainly are improving in the war-torn nation from the Ukrainian perspective. The Volodymyr Zelenskyy government has regained control in areas that had fallen under Russian occupation with a rapid counter-attack, one that has taken the invading forces by surprise and forced a retreat. There are even talks of Putin discussing a possible end to the aggression, even though the Kremlin has conveyed nothing of that nature.

And Usyk, for once, hopes his next bout takes place in the national capital in front of thousands of cheering fans, even if it’s a far too optimistic thought at the moment. The heavyweight boxer has his eyes set on a possible bout with Tyson Fury, the British star who stands between Usyk and the status of the undisputed heavyweight champion.

In an interaction with Firstpost, Usyk revealed it was his “dream” to have the much-hyped bout with Fury at Kyiv’s Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex, even if that dream of his is a bit unrealistic given the circumstances and Fury’s possible reluctance.

“I’m glad to return to Ukraine, thank God with a victory. I have three main heavyweight belts in my collection, but I really want one more WBC. I dream that this fight will take place in Ukraine. I dream of a fight at Olimpiyskiy.

“Although I think that it is unrealistic now. Even if everything is calm in Kyiv, he (Fury) would not want to come here. He feels that the land here gives strength. Even our gypsies will be here for me, and not for him. Maybe if we hold a second fight, it will take place in Kyiv. We’ll have to promise him something in return,” Usyk said.

‘The Cat’ has maintained his 20-0 undefeated record since turning pro in 2013 with a split-decision victory over Joshua in Jeddah on 20 August. Two judges scored the fight 115-113 and 116-112 in favour of the Ukrainian, while the third gave it to Joshua 115-113.

The result came less than a year since Usyk scored a unanimous victory against the same boxer, who was a local favourite at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 25 September 2021.

Joshua did put up an improved display in his second meeting with Usyk, and was visibly emotional after suffering a second defeat in a row, going to the extent of tossing Usyk’s belts out of the ring at the King Abdullah Sports City.

Usyk however, insisted he wasn’t offended by Joshua’s antics after the defeat last month, and that the Briton has “great potential for growth” in him.

“Anthony didn’t make any surprises. He was focused and wanted to catch me during counter-attacks. There were power punches; less jabs than in the first match. He wanted to disrupt my breathing, stroke my body. Hit a little lower too, but I don’t think it was intentional.

“And even the fact that he lost his temper a little after the fight — I’m not angry about it, it happens, he was upset; I would also be upset if I got beaten twice in a row. But he has great potential for growth, I think. He did great, well done,” Usyk said.

And now the focus has shifted on the dream match-up with the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury, who like him is undefeated with 32 wins — 23 of which are by KO — and one draw. Fury had recently announced his retirement from the sport, but ended up performing a U-turn on his decision on his 34th birthday.

Nothing’s confirmed between the two yet, with Fury likely to trade punches with Joshua earlier and the bout against Usyk not likely to happen until early 2023. But given the build-up on social media as well as the barbs exchanged between the two in recent weeks, with Fury promising to “smash” Usyk to bits, the contest promises to be one for the ages.

“Many people, in the boxing world and in general, want this fight. We don’t know what’s on Fury’s mind; he’s Tyson Fury, and he’s a very wild guy. I think he will agree to the match.

“Whatever he says, he is already selling this fight. I would really like to see it happen next year. We have spoken to the Saudis who were organising our second fight with Joshua and they are very interested in doing the Fury fight in Saudi Arabia. I think it’s amazing, especially since they want to have another stadium, for 80 or 90 thousand people.

“I want a fight with Tyson Fury, it will be very hype. He says that he is the ‘King of Kings’, he beats everyone, he will beat everyone, calls people things, and all that. I would really like to see this fight happen next year. But if it is not Tyson Fury, then there is no interest in boxing with anyone else,” Usyk said.

Until that bout happens, Usyk is willing to look after folks in his home country, which has suffered a lot since Putin’s invasion in February this year. With his Usyk Foundation, which has been operational since before the war but is currently focused on aiding the Ukrainian armed forces as well as displaced citizens, the star boxer aims to make a difference.

“This is a very large team of people who work with me and are very happy to fulfill their duties. Each of them is in its place. And we will do everything in our power to help people who need help.”

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