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Usyk leaves the war front… begins Ukraine preparation for Joshua rematch

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Heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has left his native Ukraine where he teamed up with the militia wading off the Russian invasion.

He is set to prepare for his rematch with Anthony Joshua. The 35 year old has been helping to defend his country from the Russian invasion after enlisting in Ukraine’s military.

He beat Joshua in September to become the unified heavyweight champion and is set to face the Briton again in June.

Usyk will now begin his training camp. April had initially been mentioned as a potential date for the rematch, but Joshua’s search for a new trainer and prolonged talks with WBC champion Tyson Fury forced a delay.

After Joshua decided against stepping aside from the fight to face Fury, his promoter Eddie Hearn said May was a target.

But Joshua’s bid to win back the WBA (Super), IBF and WBO belts was pushed back further when Russian troops invaded Ukraine at the end of February.

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Usyk is one of several former and current Ukrainian boxers who have come to the defence of their homeland.

Three-weight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, 34, has also taken up arms while brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, both former world heavyweight champions, are also in Kyiv.

Vitali, 50, has been mayor of the city since 2014 while Wladimir, 45, joined the city’s military reserve last month.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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