Anthony Joshua rematch ‘not for money, glory… Oleksandr Usyk is fighting for Ukraine’, says promoter Alexander Krassyuk

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Oleksandr Usyk will be “fighting for Ukraine” against Anthony Joshua this weekend after being encouraged to leave the war and do “something absolutely extraordinary” in the much-anticipated rematch, his promoter Alexander Krassyuk says.

Usyk will finally renew his rivalry with ​Joshua on Saturday night – with the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight title fight live on Sky Sports Box Office – after months of uncertainty back home following Russia’s invasion.

Usyk bravely elected to return to Ukraine and join the army to give his assistance but Krassyuk exclusively told Sky Sports Boxing that the 35-year-old was urged to prove himself as an “elite fighter” in the ring.

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Oleksandr Usyk was only marginally heavier for his rematch with Anthony Joshua, while the British star was four pounds heavier for Saturday’s fight, live on Sky Sports Box Office

“He travelled around a couple of cities and he visited hospitals with wounded soldiers,” said Krassyuk. “Everything he heard was words of support, and words giving him blessings to go and take the fight.

“They were saying, ‘you are a world champion heavyweight, you are an icon, it is very important that you do your job, that you represent your country.

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“‘If you stay with a machine gun, you are just another soldier… but if you there you are something absolutely extraordinary, you are an elite fighter. Go and fight.’

“So that was the crucial point to him to make a decision.”

It is Usyk’s first title defence since he out-classed Joshua last September, but Krassyuk says the 19-0 fighter is “so relaxed” about the rematch because now, “fighting is about helping real people” and is “not about money or glory”.

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Oleksandr Usyk gives his thoughts after a very intense weigh-in and face off against Anthony Joshua, ahead of their crunch rematch tomorrow night

The Usyk Foundation

Usyk is still desperate to lend his support back home and has created the Usyk Foundation, a charitable organisation, to help those affected by the ongoing conflict.

“He’s feeling now that he’s representing his country,” Krassyuk explained. “That was actually his main incentive, that’s why he took his decision. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame, glory… he’s fighting for and helping his country.

“Fighting for him this time is also about helping real people.

“His foundation is now collecting donations from all around the world. They are putting this money together and helping people in need. Those who suffered from the war, with some military needs, food.

“He is helping people a lot. I know how much he did in those first few months, and how much he spent to help people.”

Usyk defending his titles would certainly be a heroic tale.

“He is the national hero, he is the man,” added Krassyuk. “He is the icon of a new generation.

“He has come from nowhere and now he’s on top of the world. It is a very, very, very special story.”

Anthony Joshua’s huge heavyweight rematch against Oleksandr Usyk is on Saturday August 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book Usyk vs Joshua 2 now!

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