It would be impossible to fully understand what is going through Oleksandr Usyk’s mind as he prepares for his rematch with Anthony Joshua next week. His country continues to valiantly defend itself from Vladimir Putin’s invasion, an effort Usyk experienced firsthand when he joined his nation’s armed forces earlier in the year.
To have such a burden heading into a fight of this size and importance would drain even the strongest of minds. While we can’t put ourselves in Usyk’s shoes, we can clearly see that his compatriots remain firmly in his thoughts.
Uysk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk, told talkSPORT that the Joshua rematch will be free to watch for all Ukrainian citizens. He went on to explain that Usyk attempted to purchase the broadcast rights for the fight in Ukraine himself so that it could be aired for free, but that Saudi Arabia stepped in and made the purchase as a gift to the fighter.
The fight will be free on Ukrainian state TV, Megogo streaming and Usyk’s YouTube channel (though obviously only for those with a Ukrainian IP address).
It’s a sign of true class from a man who has been a credit to the sport of his entire career. A boxing match may seem insignificant in the midst of an ongoing invasion, but for those suffering through the attacks, it could serve as a hugely important event – particularly if Usyk wins again.
And, yes, the Saudis should also be praised for paying for the TV rights. That doesn’t exactly address the countless allegations of human rights violations and atrocities against them, though.
Some have compared this gesture to what Jake Paul is doing for those fighters who were set to appear on the undercard of his aborted fight with Hasim Rahman Jnr. He has vowed to pay 50% of their agreed purses. In the interest of fairness – after bashing him in last week’s column – that is a lovely move from Paul should he go through with it.
It is still unclear exactly why Paul and his promotional company decided to scrap the entire show, though. This gesture isn’t quite the same as Usyk’s, given the circumstances, plus there’s the fact that Paul decided to make a formal announcement about what he’s pledged to do, whereas Usyk just went ahead and did it.
Elsewhere we’ve had further murmurings of Tyson Fury returning to action. Bob Arum – who has co-promoted Fury for the past few years – told Barbershop Conversations that he has had discussions with Usyk’s team about a potential fight between the two.
Obviously Usyk would first need to come through Joshua, which is by no means a given, but according to Arum the Ukrainian’s team are very interested in fighting Fury.
It was also reported that Derek Chisora’s representatives have received contact from Team Fury, something David Ghansa of 248 MGT (who manage Chisora) confirmed to The Independent.
Fury conveniently planted the seeds for a third Chisora fight a month or so ago when he expressed his apparent anger over Derek picking Dillian Whyte to beat Tyson.
It’s hard to imagine these conversations are happening without Fury knowing so. What’s likely is that Fury’s team are exploring what options are available to him and at what cost, so that he can decide whether it’s worth continuing his fighting career.
Usyk and Chisora are two very different routes. A fight with Usyk, should he beat Joshua, would be huge. It would also pose a significant technical challenge for the “Gypsy King”. Chisora, on the other hand, is a known commodity and has twice been beaten by Fury. The exploration of a third meeting could be to see if Fury could get away with making millions by facing a massive underdog.
Frank Warren, who co-promoted Fury alongside Arum, told talkSPORT that he believes Fury will return to the ring, as he has “itchy feet”. Tyson has been keeping himself in shape since his win over Whyte, though this is as much to do with his mental health as it is his physical condition. Whatever the case, Fury facing the Usyk-Joshua winner later this year is the dream.
In a surprise announcement, it was revealed that Jack Catterall has signed a multi-fight agreement with Sky Sports and promotional outfit Boxxer. After his controversial loss to Josh Taylor, Catterall signed with Probellum – a company with alleged links to Daniel Kinahan – earlier this year.
Sky and Boxxer had reportedly issued a letter stating that any fighter wanting to box on their platform must sign their name to acknowledge they have no links to Kinahan or Probellum. This resulted in Probellum filing a defamation lawsuit against Boxxer, according to BoxingScene.
When announcing his new deal with Sky on social media, Catterall thanked Probellum and Richard Schaefer, stating that they “have been true to their word” and “have always stated that they would never let boxing politics stand in the way of the biggest and best fights”.
Clearly some sort of agreement has been made between the warring parties, but it’s not clear what’s happened. Unsurprisingly, Sky’s coverage of the signing made no mention of Probellum or the fact Catterall was signed to them.
More important for fans is that this development could bring us closer to a rematch with Taylor, who is also keen to face Catterall again. The first fight was on Sky Sports.
Lastly, Mike Tyson once again took aim at streaming service Hulu for their upcoming release of a biopic based on his life, entitled Mike. Tyson claims he is receiving no remuneration for the show and has not been involved in its production. Given his past troubles with money, it’s sad that yet more people are allegedly exploiting the boxing icon.