Usyk hoping to bring joy to Ukraine with Joshua rematch

Heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk said wounded soldiers in a Ukrainian hospital had urged him to “fight for the country” by facing Anthony Joshua again and that he hoped to bring some joy to the people back home with his rematch against the Briton.

Usyk beat Joshua in front of a sell-out crowd at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September to take the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts, and the pair are set to meet in a rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Aug. 20.

“I really didn’t want to leave our country, I didn’t want to leave our city,” Usyk told reporters. “I went to the hospital where soldiers were wounded and getting rehabilitation from the war.

“They were … asking me to go, to fight, to fight for the country, fight for your pride and if you’re going to go there, you’re even going to help more for our country.

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“I know a lot of my close people, friends, close friends, are right now in the front line and fighting. What I’m doing right now, I’m just supporting them, and with this fight I wanted to bring them some kind of joy in between what they do.”

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, Usyk returned to Kyiv to join a territorial defence battalion.

The 35-year-old added that he would not fight in the military once he returned to his homeland after the bout.

“Every day (I) was there, I was praying and I was asking God, ‘please God, don’t let anybody to try to kill me’,” Usyk said. “‘Please don’t let anybody to shoot me. And please don’t let me to shoot anybody, any other person’.”

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