Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2: Ukrainian highlights incredible support from people back home 

Oleksandr Usyk Ukraine

Oleksandr Usyk says he’s using the support from Ukraine as motivation to beat Anthony Joshua in their heavyweight rematch.

With just one day to go until fight night, preparations are complete for both Usyk and Joshua, who will go toe-to-toe in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

For Joshua, the motivation is to reclaim the belts he lost to Usyk last September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Usyk put on a dazzling show to sway the judges after 12 rounds of action.

But while Usyk will also be motivated to keep hold of his recently acquired belts, the 35-year-old is also inspired by the support of Ukraine, his home nation.

Following Usyk’s triumph over Joshua last September, it was inevitable that the pair would swiftly schedule a rematch, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put a stumbling block in the way.

After news of the invasion broke, Usyk headed home to join his local militia group in Kyiv. He was eventually persuaded to leave and rejoin training for the Joshua rematch, but he has kept his beloved Ukraine at the forefront of his thoughts.

Usyk open workout
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – AUGUST 16: Oleksandr Usyk trains during the Rage on the Red Sea Public Work Out at Club Saudi Arabian Airlines on August 16, 2022 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

In the pre-fight press conference this week, Usyk explained that he is fighting for far more than just heavyweight titles on Saturday night.

“I am motivated by the people of Ukraine who are struggling hard to defend our independence, to defend our freedom and defend our culture,” said Usyk.

“I receive voice and video messages from them with words of support and news that they are praying for me and for my victory. They are holding their hands tight and praying for my victory and that motivates me.”

In an attempt to provide Ukraine temporary respite, Usyk has also ensured that the nation will be able to air the rematch for free.

At first, he attempted to purchase the broadcasting rights out of his own pocket, but the Saudi Arabian hosts refused his offer and granted him the rights for free.

AJ has also praised the mental toughness and bravery of Usyk for being able to enter the ring while his country is in conflict.

Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk 2: Date, Card, UK Start Time, Ring Walks, Tickets, Live Stream, Odds and More

“If it was me, yes, my country being at war would definitely have an impact and I don’t know if it would be positive or negative,” said the Watford star.

“I don’t know how I would deal with it but I know it would be tough. I have never lived in anything like a conflict like that, so I don’t know the sort of ramifications it would have on me. 

“But I respect what he has done 100 per cent. It’s his home, isn’t it? You have to defend your home.”

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