Oleksandr Usyk, Vasiliy Lomachenko Joins Territorial Defense Battalions In Ukraine
Oleksandr Usyk is the latest Ukrainian boxer to take up arms for his country.
The WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world champion joined the Kyiv Territorial Defense to protect Ukraine from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody attack on the country. Meanwhile, Usyk’s close friend and fellow Ukrainian boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko joined the Belgorod-Dnestrovsky Territorial Defense.
Russia invaded Ukraine by dropping airstrikes on military bases and civilians in the early hours of last Thursday. Since then, at least 353 Ukrainian civilians have been killed with over 1,500 wounded.
The gruesome attacks have prompted Ukraine’s most famous boxers to gear up and defend their country.
Former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was the first to enlist in the country’s reserve army earlier this month. His decision followed the growing Russian military presence around Ukraine.
When attacks launched on Thursday, his brother – also a former heavyweight champion and now mayor of Kyiv – Vitali, confirmed he was taking up arms for the fight.
Both Klitschko brothers have been out of their boxing careers for the last five years.
Usyk, meanwhile, is set for his rematch against former unified champion Anthony Joshua, who he scored an upset victory over back in September via unanimous decision. Usyk was in London earlier last week and was accused of fleeing the country, but he returned to Ukraine later in the week and has posted on social media asking Putin for no war.
Lomachenko has been the leading option to challenge undisputed lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr on June 5 in Australia. He most recently came off a dazzling performance against former lightweight champion Richard Commey in December. Lomachenko was in Greece when the invasion began, but returned to Ukraine on Friday, which was delayed due to the ongoing conflict.
He flew into Bucharest and traveled through Romania on Saturday before reaching his home outside Odessa to be with his family.
It’s unclear what impact the war will have on Usyk and Lomachenko’s projected upcoming fights.