Oleksandr Usyk calls for ‘no war’ after returning to Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Oleksandr Usyk has released an anti-war message on his social media after returning to his home country of Ukraine following its invasion by Russia.

Citizens in Kyiv were urged to take shelter on Friday as explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital, and heavyweight boxing champion Usyk posted a video message to his Instagram followers along with the caption: “NO WAR.”

Prior to returning to Ukraine, Usyk was interviewed about his upcoming rematch with Anthony Joshua, whom the undefeated southpaw outpointed in September to win the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles.

That contest took place in London, and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has said numerous countries have offered to host the rematch, which is expected to take place in May or June. Hearn and fellow Briton Joshua are both keen on a UK venue, though the Middle East is also a possibility.

Kyiv might previously have been an outside option, but the situation in Ukraine has naturally ruled out the city as a potential host location.

“I would like to have the fight in Kyiv at the Olympic Stadium,” Usyk joked wryly to Behind The Gloves, before addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Oleksandr Usyk (left) secured a unanimous-decision win against Anthony Joshua in September (Getty Images)
Oleksandr Usyk (left) secured a unanimous-decision win against Anthony Joshua in September (Getty Images)

“First of all, we have an un-stabilised position right now in our country,” he said.

“Second of all, the people who are organising all of this see it more like a financial interest. So, at this point, Ukraine is not going to [offer] the most financial interest.

“We don’t care, wherever it is going to be.”

An announcement around the exact date and venue for Usyk and Joshua’s rematch is expected to come in March.

A unification bout between 35-year-old Usyk and WBC champion Tyson Fury was on the cards as a step-aside deal was negotiated last month, but Joshua’s monetary demands reportedly put an end to those talks.

Instead, Fury will defend his belt against fellow Briton Dillian Whyte on 23 April – likely at Wembley Stadium – before Usyk and Joshua clash again.