Usyk's safe exit from Ukraine makes me happy, says Russian boxing legend

Updated: Jul 19

Oleksandr Usyk undoubtedly had no choice but to enlist in Kyiv's territorial defense troops, according to former heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev.

Former heavyweight boxing champion of Russia Nikolai Valuev expressed relief that Oleksandr Usyk, who is currently the world champion of Ukraine, was able to leave his country without incident after enlisting in Kyiv's territorial defense forces. Valuev added that Usyk probably had no choice but to report for duty.

Usyk, the undisputed heavyweight champion, is presently getting ready for his highly anticipated rematch against Anthony Joshua, in which the Ukrainian superstar will defend the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO crowns that he sensationally defeated the Brit in London last September.

The Crimean-born Usyk, 35, was outside of Ukraine when the crisis with Russia began in February but returned via Poland and tweeted pictures of himself joining the defense forces of Kyiv afterward.

Usyk later left Ukraine once more at the end of March, this time claiming that he had been convinced that facing Joshua in their rematch scheduled for Saudi Arabia on August 20 would be in the country's best interest.

Valuev, a State Duma deputy and a former two-time WBA heavyweight champion from Russia, stated that Usyk had no choice but to start using force in the first instance.

Valuev stated, "I am not completely aware of how Sasha [Usyk] arrived there [in Kyiv], but he likely had no other options."

"After all, he was on the soil of his birth nation and was unable to avoid participating in their procedures. And I praised God that he was still alive when he traveled abroad to train for his next battle.

Usyk, who was once viewed negatively by some Ukrainians for allegedly being reluctant to criticize Russia, has pledged to move back to his own country "immediately after" his bout with Joshua.

All previous distinctions bestowed upon him in his Crimean birthplace, however, have been revoked.

Valuev covered a wide range of topics in a lengthy interview with RIA Novosti, including the future of Russian sport in the wake of sweeping international sanctions.

Valuev asserted that although a new sporting world order might emerge, he did not anticipate it to happen very soon.

"There is a global rearrangement of the world, and most likely, new international alliances will also be developed in sports, as in other fields," stated the 48-year-old.

"Perhaps the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee will have competition. However, for the time being, it is tough to imagine because of how pricey it is.

It depends on more than only Russia; in a comparable circumstance, several other significant nations ought to openly tell the IOC: "Go ahead in the forest; we'd be better off establishing something of our own."

Valuev, who retired from the sport in 2009 with a 50–2 record, said he did not see "anything rosy for [Russian] sport, but this does not mean that we will not develop the sport and compete."

"In international sports, we have achieved individual successes... Our professional boxers, tennis players, and hockey players compete, and they all play in the elite NHL," he continued.

"We must rely on the fact that many people see that international sports without Russia are somehow insufficient and unsporting.

"Without Russia, they are bogus championships and medals, as the best athletes in the world do not compete in competitions.

"Both officials and international athletes themselves completely comprehend this. But at this point, nothing can be done.

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