By: Sean Crose
WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk surprised a whole lot of people on Saturday when he signed with Saudi Arabia’s Skill Challenge Promotions. Talking to Radio Rahim of Seconds Out, the undefeated Ukrainian fighter explained his reasoning. “Skills Challenge is capable of organizing the fight with Tyson Fury,” he said simply. Apparently an undisputed heavyweight title fight remains a real possibility. Rahim inquired of Usyk’s obvious warm interaction with a Saudi prince present at the signing ceremony. “I think that normal business relationships are impossible without good friendly relations between the men,” he said.
When asked about how he’s managing to continue a career while his Ukrainian homeland is still under Russian attack, Usyk allowed his patriotism to take center stage. “It’s true the fight that I’m going to have for those people who dared to fight on the front line, who sacrificed their lives, for their country, for my country, this fight will be for them.” Usyk then went on to explain current life in Ukraine.
“When you wake up one o’clock at night because you heard an explosion, a bomb, a drone, a rocket, a missile, whatever,” he said, “and you hear that your building you’re living in is shaking, the windows are shaking, your daughter and your wife are running already to the bomb shelter, you feel when you see your home animals housing themselves under the bed, you feel anger, maybe it’s not anger, but you feel frustration about it.”
Usyk wanted to make it clear that everyday people were being impacted by the war. “Normal civilians, they are suffering it every night,” said the undefeated titlist. “It’s not good. It has to be stopped. For me, I’m a rich person I can live any place on planet earth, but Ukraine is my home and how can I leave my home in such a horrible, difficult time?” As hard as the situation in his country is, Usyk indicated he views it through a spiritual perspective. “For myself, I’m not afraid to die,” he said. “I know that death is not the final point. I know that there is an eternal life after death if you save your soul…I ask the Lord to save my soul and to save (the) souls of other people.”
As things stand in regard to his ring career, Usyk is scheduled to face Daniel Dubois this August in Warsaw. What comes after that may well be up to Fury – provided Usyk defeats Fury’s fellow Englishman, Dubois.
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