As fans know, Oleksandr Usyk has begun training for his return fight with Anthony Joshua, Usyk having left war-torn Ukraine to get ready for the rematch that will either go ahead in June or perhaps in July. And former heavyweight king Vitali Klitschko has come out and given his support and his blessing to Usyk. Klitschko is against any Russian fighter getting in the ring under the current circumstances (both Klitschko brothers stating how light-heavyweight Dmitry Bivol should not be fighting Canelo Alvarez in May).
But both Klitschko brothers support Usyk and they back his decision to take the Joshua fight.
“A very important message could be carried through an event like this,” Vitali said in speaking with The Telegraph. “We do not know if in three months we will exist. I actually have plans to speak to Oleksandr Usyk to give him advice to make the fight, to have some special messages that he can put out there. There are pros and cons and it’s a hard decision for Usyk but to have the Ukrainian flag raised and our anthem played and one of our ambassadors of our country out there in the world with the right mindset could be more positive than negative. We need support. Since the beginning of the war, the economy is down to nothing, but please do not forget we are defending democratic principles of freedom and free choice.”
Usyk-Joshua II is now very much a political fight. With a victory, Usyk can make a statement, the kind Vitali alludes to. It could be that Joshua feels very much like the outsider in the fight, the enemy even. Who will not be rooting for Usyk in the rematch? Usyk will literally be fighting for his country in that ring, as well as for freedom. You can bet your life Usyk will be super-motivated like never before.
This fight is now about far more than just three world title belts. Usyk cannot afford to lose. There is too much at stake.