Oleksandr Usyk explains why he's left Ukraine for Anthony Joshua rematch 4 months ago

Oleksandr Usyk explains why he's left Ukraine for Anthony Joshua rematch

Usyk believes fighting Joshua is a better way to help Ukraine

Oleksandr Usyk has confirmed on Instagram that he has decided to leave Ukraine to focus on his preparations for a rematch with Anthony Joshua.

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Usyk defeated Joshua last year to become the unified heavyweight champion. Though the pair were expected to fight again this summer, Russia's invasion of Usyk's homeland had cast doubt on the rematch, with the 35-year-old joining the Kyiv defence battalion in late February.

Despite the ongoing invasion, Usyk has left Ukraine, confirming via a short video that he had decided to focus on preparations for the Joshua fight.

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Usyk on the decision to leave Ukraine for Joshua rematch

"I’ve decided to start preparing for a rematch with Anthony Joshua," he told his followers.

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

"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.

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

Why Usyk returned to Kyiv

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In announcing his return to Kyiv last month, Usyk told CNN he would take the life of a Russian soldier in order to defend his country - even if he didn't want to be in such a position.

"If they will want to take my life, or the lives of my close ones, I will have to do it," Usyk said.

"But I don't want that. I don't want to shoot, I don't want to kill anybody, but if they will be killing me, I will have no choice.

"Maybe, it'll sound sentimental, but my soul belongs to the Lord and my body and my honour belong to my country, to my family.

"So there is no fear, absolutely no fear. There's just bafflement - how could this be in the 21st century?"

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Usyk influenced Russian soldier's perception of the war

Usyk's decision to return to join the fight generated plenty of headlines. Earlier in this month, a captured Russian soldier revealed that the heavyweight's decision to take up arms against Vladimir Putin's army had influenced his perception of the invasion.

During a press conference released by Ukrainian officials,  the Russian revealed how his doubts about Putin's invasion plans first surfaced after he saw Usyk - along with fellow Ukrainian boxer Vasyl Lomachenko - fighting against him.

"Literally I'm 100 per cent wrong now. Don't judge too harshly," he said.

"We were told Ukraine was dominated by fascists...Nazis had seized power. We did not know the situation for sure.

"When we entered this territory I watched the address of your boxers. Back home I always loved watching them.

"They said 'we didn't call you here'. I feel shame that we came to this country."

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