Will Russian Invasion Of Ukraine Delay or Derail Usyk-Joshua II?
With the news and video images Wednesday night into Thursday of the Russians in the beginning stages of invading and potentially, overtaking the country of Ukraine, Global tensions are heightened. Obviously, the life-and-death situation for the Ukrainian people and their military trying to maintain their status as a country is at the forefront.
However, a legitimate concern for something less significant still has to be raised in the boxing world. This, as to what Russia’s actions mean for Unified Heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who is a Ukrainian national sports hero, and whether the events beginning this week either delay or will derail completely his proposed rematch fight with Britain’s Anthony Joshua?
The Usyk-Joshua rematch of the Ukranian’s 12 round decision win last September has been rumored for May or early June at a location yet to be determined.
However, nothing is official, as of yet and obviously, what’s changing hour by hour in Usyk’s home country will very likely have short term effects on any plans that he and Matchroom Boxing with promoter Eddie Hearn will have in trying to secure and stage the bout.
For his part, the new WBA/IBF/WBO World champ was doing work on a new E-sports boxing video game is Sheffield, England on Wednesday. And, he gave this interview to Michelle Joy Phelps on her YouTube Channel/boxing podcast,
In the interview that focused on his involvement with the video game, Phelps also asked about locations for the possible rematch and his choices? She even mentioned Kiev, Ukraine, without obviously realizing the seriousness of what is now transpiring there just a day later.
The new champ made clear through his interpreter and promoter, Egis Klimas, that he has concern for what’s going on in his country now.
“First of all, we have an unstablized position in our country. Second of all, the people who are organizing all of these (possible rematch sites) see more or a financial interest (more money to be made elsewhere). So, at this point Ukraine is not going to be the most financial interest.”
Usyk is 19-0, 13 KOs, as a professional and is the former Undisputed World Cruiserweight champ, as well. The Ukranian southpaw is also a national hero for having won the Gold Medal in the Heavyweight division at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Again, this situation in Usyk’s homeland is far more significant than any sport/sports figure. And, it will likely worsen in the coming days and/or weeks.
Further, it’s likely that unless Russian President Vladimir Putin and his armed forces withdraw and backoff of whatever they have started/want to accomplish, that the negotiating for the site for the proposed Usyk-Joshua rematch will cease in the short term.
Now, like most of the rest of the world watching, we wait to see what happens next.