Ukraine President Zelenskyy lauds Oleksandr Usyk's win over Anthony Joshua as inspiration for war-torn nation
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had lauded Oleksandr Usyk's 'important' and 'necessary' split-decision victory over Anthony Joshua.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had lauded iconic boxer Oleksandr Usyk's 'important' and 'necessary' split-decision victory over Anthony Joshua. In a closer contest than the first time, Usyk defeated the Brit on Saturday to retain his world heavyweight championships.
Both boxers raised the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag at the King Abdullah Sports City arena outside of Jeddah when the judges' scores were announced. Usyk covered his face under the flag when he was given the victory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was quick to congratulate his compatriot. "Difficult, but so important and necessary VICTORY!" he said on Twitter.
"Defending the title of the world champion is a symbol of the fact that all Cossacks will not give up theirs, will fight for it and will definitely win!" he added.
Six months after serving in the Ukrainian army as part of the nation's defence against Russia's invasion, the 35-year-old Usyk kept his WBA, WBO, and IBF belts.
Usyk carried the weight of a war-torn nation in a battle that was shown on free-to-air TV in his home country, and he had to withstand a sustained body onslaught from an improved Joshua to secure the victory. Usyk was encouraged by a pre-fight statement from his country's president.
At the final bell, both boxers appeared worn out. Usyk collapsed to the ground, looking upward. Joshua quickly joined him there, hugging his opponent and seeming to offer assistance for the predicament of Ukraine.
Joshua commended Usyk for battling so well under the circumstances in an expletive-filled speech inside the ring.
With the victory, Usyk also obtained the Ring Magazine belt. Usyk is the only heavyweight champion who does not own the WBC championship, which Tyson Fury vacated this year after declaring his retirement.
When asked about Fury, Usyk said, "I am sure Tyson Fury is not retired yet. I am sure Tyson Fury wants to fight me. If I'm not fighting Tyson Fury, I'm not fighting at all."
Two judges gave it to Usyk, one 115-113 and the other 116-112. The other gave the fight to Joshua, 115-113. Joshua, a two-time heavyweight champion, suffered his third defeat in 27 matches, and his professional future is uncertain. Usyk's future seems to be dependent on Fury right now.