In spite of Russia's invasion of his home country of Ukraine, Oleksandr Usyk was destined to defend his heavyweight belts at some point in his career. His fellow compatriots made absolutely certain of that.
In spite of the fact that Usyk took a break to contribute to the war effort for a while, the people of Ukraine have made it very apparent that they want him to win the rematch against Anthony Joshua on Saturday in Saudi Arabia. This is in part to boost morale in the beleaguered European country.
“He made his decision to take the rematch in these circumstances after he had received massive support from his Ukrainian compatriots,” Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk said.
“He was in touch with high-ranking military officers and he visited the hospitals with injured soldiers. In every conversation he heard words of blessing and support to take the rematch. People wanted him to fight. People still want him to win.
“People want the Ukrainian flag to rise, people want the Ukrainian anthem to be heard throughout the whole planet. Not many men in the world can deliver this to millions of people. Usyk is able to do that. He does that through the sport of boxing.”
The former cruiserweight champion is noted mostly for his ring savvy and superb skill set, both of which confused Joshua in their first fight against each other. Joshua was the undisputed cruiserweight champion at the time. Additionally, he puts in more hours of training than anybody else in the industry.
The people who are in charge of Usyk aren't shocked by very much of what he is capable of doing. Despite this, even they were taken aback by the amount of effort he has put into his preparation for this battle.
“I can tell you, I’ve never seen anybody in 45-degree heat (113 Fahrenheit) ride a bicycle for 100 kilometers,” said Egis Klimas.
“I’ve never seen anybody swimming the day before a press conference in London for 10 kilometers in the pool for five hours.
“I’ve never seen anybody hold their breath underwater for 4 minutes and 40 seconds, almost passing away. I hope all of this is going to be helping him on Saturday night.”