“It’s Better Than … Running Around Kyiv With A Machine Gun” | Oleksandr Usyk Stops Fighting In Ukraine To Defend Heavyweight Title Against Anthony Joshua

Image Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

The war against Ukraine has shown the patriotism of the country’s boxers as many have gone home or stayed to defend against Russia.

It has stopped some high-level fight opportunities for certain Ukrainian boxers, like Vasiliy Lomachenko. The former three-weight class world champion has rejected a title fight with George “Ferocious” Kambosos to stay the course and fight Russians in Ukraine.

“Loma” is currently part of a regiment in Ukraine providing border security detail. He is part of a contingent of Ukrainian current professional boxers and former boxers that have sacrificed their careers to defend their country.

The Rematch Is On

However, current unified heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk recently confirmed that he decided to take the rematch with Anthony Joshua.

The champ announced in a 42-second video on his Instagram page.

The Ukrainian star returned to his home nation to help defend against the Russian invasion, but Usyk is now set to continue his boxing career.

Usyk Speaks

“Good evening, everyone. I’ve decided to start preparing for a rematch with Anthony Joshua.

“Dear friends, many of my friends and close ones called me and supported me in this. Haters, I wish you well and wish you happiness, joy, and peace.

“Everything will be with God’s blessing. Everything will be Ukraine. Wishing everyone well.”

The Ukrainian star returned to his home nation to help defend against the Russian invasion. The images have been iconic of former champions like Vitali Klitschko holding the line wearing fatigues and a high-powered rifle.

However, now Usyk is ready to continue his boxing career.

Ready To Rock

The 35-year-old undefeated Ukrainian stated that the support of his friends and family gave him the countenance to resume his boxing career to help the image of Ukrainians.

“That’s how I will help my country more, and it’s better than being in territorial defense and running around Kyiv with a machine gun.”

In a new era of sports entertainment, this is the first time in history the major and minor players of an entire country’s boxing community have put down the gloves and picked up the guns.

The Redemption Of AJ

British boxing sensation Anthony Joshua had a rematch clause in his contract for their first bout, which resulted in him losing his belts in a unanimous decision loss at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.

At first, attempts were made on Usyk’s side to put on the fight hold while he engaged in the defense of his country. However, Joshua began to float the idea of potential new opponents, including Deontay Wilder, Otto Wallin, and more.

Usyk then decided not to lose the world’s attention with a fight against Joshua and now is back in action. The heavyweight division is still the most visible in boxing, especially on the heels of the trilogy fights between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

The Heavyweights

Usyk captured the IBF, WBA (super), and WBO heavyweight titles in September 2021. Usyk put on an almost flawless performance in London’s now-former champ’s backyard to dethrone Joshua. The judges saw Usyk win clearly via a unanimous decision with 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113.

Joshua followed a faulty game plan where he attempted to outbox Usyk. The naturally bigger man, Joshua, didn’t use his weight to pin Usyk and deliver body blows or dirty box. Instead, he stood toe-to-toe with a superior boxer and got outboxed handily to lose his titles.

The heavyweight division is now a race towards undisputed with Tyson Fury, who holds the WBC title, versus Dillian Whyte. The winner of that bout will hopefully fight the winner of the Usyk vs. Joshua fight and keep the heavyweight division on top.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.