Heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has said Tyson Fury will be a more difficult opponent for him than Anthony Joshua, whom the Ukrainian hero has twice defeated.
Usyk and Fury could meet in a unification fight this year, and speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap, Usyk was asked directly if Fury would be more difficult than Joshua.
“Yes, of course, he has a different style,” replied Usyk. “Fury is more audacious… I’m not afraid of Tyson Fury.”
In an interview that lasts around 30 minutes, Usyk talked to Neville about his childhood, Russia’s war on Ukraine and his family. Usyk also revealed how he first heard about the start of the war, in a text message from his wife while he was in the UK. Usyk flew to Poland, drove to Kiev and then joined the war effort for Ukraine.
Former Manchester United and England player Neville visited Usyk’s training camp for the interview and asked whether Usyk was angry with what was happening in his country.
“Now? No. Maybe at first,” Usyk said. “The first two months, yes I was angry asking ‘why?’ Now. No. It’s crazy man, Russia.”
Asked if he was worried for himself or his family because he’d spoken out against Russia and Vladimir Putin, Usyk said, “No [not for himself]. My family yes, my friends, my country people. For me, no. Every day I pray.”
Usyk said his fellow Ukrainian citizens have urged him to fight on and bring victory back to the country and he said he was inspired by his compatriots and that was his motivation to continue his successful boxing career, which has seen him unify the titles at cruiserweight before moving up to heavyweight to dethrone Joshua.
“I’m not boxing for a belt now,” Usyk stated. “I’m boxing for everyone who is defending our country and in the memory of those warriors who are no longer with us… also, those of us who want to be free and who stood for their country against those who came to conquer us.”
Usyk was candid talking about his late father and admitted that the Russian attack on his country is never far from his mind.
“It can be really hard, but if I’m scared or think about it all constantly it will not change the situation,” Usyk explained. “If I have the opportunity, I must help my country, the army and all the lads. God gave me the opportunity to be someone famous who can speak out, I must speak about it.
On the proposed fight with Tyson Fury, Usyk added that he would “gain the necessary weight to do my job properly” and said of the size discrepancy that, “If a person is bigger than me, it doesn't mean they're stronger than me. If they have longer arms, it doesn't mean that it will be an advantage.”