Oleksandr Usyk goes into his August 20 rematch with Anthony Joshua a heavyweight champion. But he’s under no illusions as to how demanding the first defence of his IBF, WBO and WBA titles will be.
Many expect him to repeat his victory over Joshua this Saturday, broadcast live in the UK and Ireland on Sky Sports Box Office. But Usyk himself is taking nothing for granted.
“The difference is that I’m going to have the belts with me,” he said. “I will be walking second, people are going to be waiting for me.
“But I do realise that when I walk into the ring in the position of a champion, it doesn’t make me feel like it’ll be easier and it won’t be easier in the ring,” Usyk told Sky Sports News.
“I realise that I have to do my job properly and it’s not going to be an easy assignment for me.”
Joshua is taller, heavier and a serious puncher, who is promising a newly destructive approach to this second fight.
Ukraine’s Usyk admitted he does expect to be heavier for this rematch than he was in the first fight. That could be taken as a sign Usyk intends to stand his ground and go for a knockout on Saturday.
However, he gave nothing away. “I will not tell you much about my strategy,” Usyk maintained. “I am a bit heavier than I was last time.
“I’m not sure the weight I’m going to be walking to the ring, we’re going to see it on Friday [at the weigh-in].
“I’m not a big forecaster,” he added. “You’ll see Saturday night, I’ll just do my job, what I have to do.”
What Usyk means to do is win. He goes into this fight with a message for the world. As Ukraine resists Russia’s invasion, Usyk wants to represent his country on a global stage.
Usyk has his own foundation supporting civilians during the war.
“It’s important because the war is taking place and we have to help people. Whether they need food, we supply them with food. Whether they need anything else, we have to help them. Because this is something that is happening in our hearts and our assignment is to keep positive and keep other people positive,” Usyk said.
“I have a group of people who work hard to find families in need. Maybe they need some kind of house to live, some food to support, maybe some money to spend for their families. They are looking for these people, they are analysing what are their needs and they help in satisfying their needs. This is something that they do every day and this is something that will be done in the future because this is actually the mission of the foundation.
“I want to help my people and my country and Saturday night is going to be a small party for them, maybe a big party.
“I will do my best,” he insisted, “to give the best performance that I can.”