Anthony Joshua admits “respect” for heavyweight rival Oleksandr Usyk after fighting on the front lines

Anthony Joshua admits he has “respect” for heavyweight rival Oleksandr Usyk for fighting on the frontline after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and says he would have done the same

  • Anthony Joshua has admitted his admiration for Ukrainian rival Oleksandr Usyk
  • The heavyweight duo will meet in the ring in Saudi Arabia on August 20
  • Joshua praised Usyk for defending his country amid Russia’s invasion
  • The Englishman explained that he ‘would have done the same’ for his country

Anthony Joshua has reserved special praise for fellow heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk ahead of their upcoming world title fight at the Jeddah Super Dome in Saudi Arabia on August 20.

Usyk dominated the Englishman during their previous Wembley match where Joshua lost the world title belts for the second time in his career.

Despite taking a more brash attitude in the build-up to the rematch, Joshua showed his respect for Usyk who stayed to fight in Ukraine when Russia began its invasion of his homeland.

Anthony Joshua has praised Oleksandr Usyk for helping defend Ukraine against Russia

Usyk, 35, enlisted in the Kyiv Territorial Defense after Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Usyk, 35, enlisted in the Kyiv Territorial Defense after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The 35-year-old was part of Ukraine’s defense battalion and was responsible for going out on patrols when Usyk joined the front line to protect his country from invaders.

The world champion eventually left Ukraine after being urged by injured victims of the war to leave and start training for his heavyweight showdown in the Middle East.

Joshua, 32, took time to respect his rival’s commitments to fight for his country, admitting he would have done the same to protect his home.

“If it was me, yes, it would definitely have an impact and I don’t know if it would be positive or negative.

Usyk dominated the duo's previous fight in London as Joshua lost the heavyweight titles

Usyk dominated the duo’s previous fight in London as Joshua lost the heavyweight titles

The heavyweight pair will meet again in the ring in Saudi Arabia on Saturday 20 August

The heavyweight pair will meet again in the ring in Saudi Arabia on Saturday 20 August

“I don’t know how I would cope, but I know it would be tough.

“I have never lived in any such conflict, so I do not know what kind of consequences it would have for me.

“I respect what he has done 100 percent. It’s his home, isn’t it – you have to defend your home.

“It’s such a shame that civilians get the worst end of the bargain in wars, when it’s a political issue. He’s just trying to defend his community, so I respect him.

Joshua will try to become a three-time heavyweight champion when he faces Usyk

Joshua will try to become a three-time heavyweight champion when he faces Usyk

“I think I would have done the same, not as a boxer or a fighter, just as a general person.

Joshua, from Watford, has undergone a completely different build-up to the meeting with Usyk, as he first embarked on a global journey to find a new trainer, before taking on reigning champion Robert Garcia as he ditched long-time trainer Rob McCracken.

Joshua also admitted that rescheduling the fight was not a problem for his camp as they wanted to give Usyk all the time he needed to prepare for his heavyweight title defence.

“We looked at suitable dates for Oleksandr and his team. I felt it was important for him to be ready, rather than us forcing them into a date.

“He wanted to defend the belts. I wanted us to work together. It is the way we showed our compassion for him and his country.

“I feel like this has worked out well for everyone in the long run.”

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