‘There is no fear’: World heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk joins fight against Russia in Ukraine

Oleksandr Usyk maintains “there is no fear” after the world heavyweight champion joined the fight against Russia in Ukraine.

The unified world champion has taken up arms and joined the territorial defense battalion alongside fellow boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko, as well as former fighters Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.

Initially out of the country and in London on business when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, Usyk had been in negotiations to rematch Anthony Joshua following his victory over the Briton at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.

But Usyk quickly travelled back home and insists he is prepared to sacrifice himself for his country.

“Maybe, it’ll sound sentimental,” Usyk told CNN with his manager Egis Klimas acting as his interpreter. “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?

“The bombing around is crazy. They just bombed the city of Mariupol, one of my friends got a rocket in his roof. [The Russians] are not playing games.”

Usyk revealed that he continues to box in order to relieve stress, with his craft enabling him to remain “calm and mentally prepared” for the task at hand.

A return to the ring is therefore unknown, as is the case for his friend Lomachenko, who has called for “peace and enlightenment”, with the former three-weight world champion set to fight George Kambosos in Australia in June.

That fight, too, has been shelved for the time being, with Klimas concluding: “They’re in big danger. When the bullets start flying, the bullet doesn’t care if you’re a world champion. The bullet just goes through.”

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)
This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Wladimir Klitschko meanwhile has called on the UK and the rest of the world to help Ukraine.

“The infrastructure is partially destroyed by the shelling that is happening all over the countries, in the different cities, it’s absolutely not enough, we definitely need support and help,” the former world heavyweight champion told the BBC.

“We need financial help, military equipment support, medical support, this country is in a war, without support of you guys and the world, we will fight, but it’s much better if we have our lives like you guys.

“We are fighting for democracy and our choice, we have made the choice where Ukraine wants to go, terrible events have happened in the last six days, horrible events, horrible, where civilians, men and women dying, I’m proud of our men and women, ready to defend our country for the future and the future of our children. It’s actually amazing to observe.”