‘We missed you’: Oleksandr Usyk pays tribute to his country as the victorious unified heavyweight champion returns to war-torn Ukraine for the first time since leaving the Kyiv territorial defenses to train for Anthony Joshua’s rematch
- Oleksandr Usyk joined the territorial defense of Ukraine after the invasion of Russia
- He was allowed to leave the country to fight Anthony Joshua again
- Usyk spent several months away from Ukraine to prepare for his boxing return
- He defeated Joshua earlier this month to retain his heavyweight world titles
- He has now returned to Ukraine paying tribute to the war-torn nation
Oleksandr Usyk has returned to his home country of Ukraine for the first time since retaining his heavyweight titles against Anthony Joshua earlier this month.
Usyk took on Joshua in Saudi Arabia in a rematch of their fight last September, which he won by unanimous decision. This time Joshua put in a much better display, but Usyk was still able to emerge victorious after 12 laps.
With Russia continuing its invasion of Ukraine, Usyk had been away from his country for several months preparing for his return fight with Joshua. He has now returned to Ukraine and paid tribute to his country in a post on Instagram on Monday.
Oleksandr Usyk has returned to his homeland Ukraine for the first time in months
“We missed you,” he wrote, next to a photo of himself standing in front of a sign with the colors of the national flag and the word “Ukraine” on it.
When Russia began their invasion in February, Usyk quickly made himself available to serve his country, joining Ukraine’s territorial defense in the capital Kiev.
It was initially unclear when he would be able to return to boxing, but he was allowed to leave Ukraine to face Joshua before they finally settle their rivalry.
Usyk has made it clear that he is proud to represent Ukraine, especially during these difficult times for his country. He dedicated his win against Joshua to his country when he spoke after their rematch.
“This fight was extremely important for my country, my team and for me. I’ve boxed for the whole country and half the world,” he said.
Usyk defeated Anthony Joshua in their heavyweight rematch earlier this month
Usyk is proud to represent Ukraine and drapes himself in his country’s flag after beating Joshua
“I kept saying to myself ‘you can’t stop, you can’t stop, you can’t stop’. Some big things were at stake. And thank goodness the belts are coming back to Ukraine, the victory is ours and Ukraine has won.
“Now the whole world knows that Ukraine is defending itself against the second largest army in the world. And we stand strong and we give back to Russia a lot.”
“I want to say that some people in the world underestimate what is going on in Ukraine – please open your eyes and see what happens. Ukrainians never give up, we always go to the end. In the end we always win, we just need a little more time.
Usyk now has his sights set on a showdown with Tyson Fury, who would crown an undisputed champion in the boxing division.
A meeting between the pair in February is being looked forward to, suggesting that Usyk should now be given the chance to spend time back in Ukraine before focusing on preparing for his highly anticipated clash with Fury.