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Heavyweight champion Usyk takes to football, signs contract with Ukrainian soccer club

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Ukraine’s heavyweight boxing champion and title defender Oleksandr Usyk attends a press conference in Warsaw, Poland, July 10, 2023, ahead of his fight against Britain’s Daniel Dubois. Ukrainian soccer club Polissya Zhytomyr said Thursday July 20, 2023, it has signed unbeaten heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk to play for the team for one season. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

While a unification bout at Wembley against Tyson Fury is no longer on the cards, Oleksandr Usyk could still compete under the lights after swapping his boxing gloves for soccer boots and signing a contract with Ukrainian club Polissya.

Heavyweight champion Usyk, who trained as a footballer with Ukraine’s Tavriya Simferopol as a teenager before switching to boxing, on Wednesday signed a one-year “agreement on football cooperation” with the club and will wear the number 17 shirt.

The 36-year-old previously made a substitute appearance for Polissya in a friendly match last year.

Polissya will play in the Ukrainian Premier League in the 2023-24 season after earning promotion with a first-placed finish in last season’s second-tier Ukrainian First League.

“I respect and am proud of this man. His attitude to training is a great example for the Polissia team,” Polissya president Gennadiy Butkevych said in a statement on Thursday.

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Usyk will next enter the boxing ring at the Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw, Poland, on Aug. 26, where he will defend his IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles against Britain’s Daniel Dubois.

Usyk is undefeated in 20 professional fights with 13 knockouts while Dubois has won 19 of his 20 bouts, losing one.

-Reuters

 

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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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Boxing

Usyk considering stepping down to cruiserweight after Fury rematch

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Undisputed heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk said he may return to the cruiserweight division following his rematch with British heavyweight Tyson Fury later this year.

Usyk – now the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO champion – defeated Fury by split decision in a thrilling contest at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh to become undisputed heavyweight champion.

The Ukrainian was previously the undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up to heavyweight in 2019.

“I think maybe after the rematch, I am going to go down in weight to cruiserweight. I want more cruiserweight,” Usyk said in an episode of the ‘3 Knockdown Rule’ podcast released on Wednesday.

“Maybe I can be undisputed for a second time in the cruiserweight division, it’s my plan. When I start to prepare for my training camp (as a heavyweight), I have to eat all the time. For me it’s hard, I don’t like it.”

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Usyk, 37, is the first undisputed heavyweight champion since the end of Lennox Lewis’ reign in April 2000. He will face Fury in a rematch on Dec. 21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. REUTERS

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Boxing

Usyk-Fury heavyweight rematch set for Dec. 21 in Saudi Arabia

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The heavyweight rematch between undisputed world champion Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury will take place on Dec. 21 in Saudi Arabia, according to the advisor who organizes boxing events in the kingdom.

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, confirmed the date of the fight on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday. He said it will take place in Riyadh, the location of the first fight on May 19.

“The world will watch another historical fight again,” he wrote. “Our commitment to boxing fans continues … We hope you enjoy it.”

Usyk became the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000 when he defeated Fury by split decision, earning a narrow win on two scorecards. The 37-year-old Ukrainian is the first heavyweight to hold every major title belt since Lennox Lewis.

It was Fury’s first loss as a professional.

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-AP

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Boxing

Furious Fury to clash again with Usyk in October

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All hope is not lost for Tyson Fury who lost his WBC heavyweight championship belt to Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia early this Sunday morning.

Both boxer had agreed before the unification bout that the loser of their fight would be eligible to trigger a rematch.

Owing to the two-way rematch clause, there will be a second showdown. As for a date, nothing is set in stone. The hopeful Saudi boxing chief Turki Alalshikh confirmed that a rematch is likely to go ahead on 12th/13th October 2024, not taking into account exceptional circumstances such as injuries or unforeseen events.

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