Ukrainian world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s preparations for Anthony Joshua rematch are thrown into disarray as he cannot return to his training base just outside Kiev due to Russian invasion
- Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk is due to fight Anthony Joshua in May or June
- Usyk can no longer return to his training base after Russia invaded Ukraine
- The world champion landed in the UK this week for further talks with Joshua
- A fight in Kiev was unlikely anyway but is now completely out of the question
Oleksandr Usyk’s preparations for his rematch with Anthony Joshua are now clouded in uncertainty. Ukrainian Usyk landed in the UK this week as talks continue over a second fight, slated for late May or June.
A source close to Joshua’s camp insisted ‘all plans are set for the rematch’ but WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight king Usyk’s plans to return to his training base in Kiev have been complicated by the invasion.
His promoter Alex Krassyuk said he now had ‘no idea’ what Usyk will do ahead of the bout, and suggested to Sportsmail that coming back to Ukraine would be ‘impossible’.
Oleksandr Usyk is set to defend his world heavyweight title belts against Anthony Joshua
Two other heavyweight champions could soon join the fight to defend their homeland. This month, Wladimir Klitschko enlisted in Ukraine’s reserve army, while brother Vitali, the mayor of Kyiv, vowed: ‘I don’t have another choice… I will be fighting.’
Together, they also urged the world to help stop ‘this senseless war which is not going to have any winners, but losers.’
Not long before facing Derek Chisora in 2020, Usyk moved his family a few miles outside the capital. The WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight king has also trained near Kiev since 2018.
The Ukrainian, who dethroned Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in September, wanted to defend his belts at home.
That was unlikely, even before the invasion, due to the vast riches on offer elsewhere.
Usyk won his belts from Joshua after a comprehensive points victory in September
‘I would like to have the fight in Kiev at the Olympic Stadium,’ Usyk said earlier this week. ‘(But) we have an unstable position in our country… we don’t care, wherever it is.’
Usyk has fought amid tension and uncertainty back home before. In 2018 he faced Russian Murat Gassiev for the undisputed cruiserweight title.
As Usyk recalled this week: ‘We had to go to Moscow, to Russia, the situation between the countries was very tight, I could have had big problems in my country. Even then I went to Russia, to Moscow, and I fought and I showed everybody what I’m capable of.’
Men between age of 18 and 60 now being banned from leaving the country by the Ukrainian Boarder Agency
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