Oleksandr Usyk has said he was dreaming of fighting Tyson Fury and reiterated that he might not fight again if he does not get to fight the WBC heavyweight champion.
Usyk claimed a split decision win over Anthony Joshua in Jeddah to retain his WBA, WBO and IBF titles, as well as adding The Ring belt and inevitably thoughts quickly turned to Fury and a fight for the undisputed title.
While Fury was quickly onto social media to seemingly end his latest retirement, Usyk, who had said in the ring that he might not box again if it was not against Fury, repeated that view at the post-fight press conference and made it clear that Fury was the only boxer on his mind.
“That is what I am dreaming of every day,” Usyk said. “I am going to beat his ass.”
The importance of Usyk’s victory to his war-torn nation was also clear. Usyk had a Ukrainian flag signed by soldiers on the front line in his dressing room before the fight and then displayed another on the front of the stage at the press conference. He said he was also inspired by thoughts of the troops when he had difficult times in the ring.
“This fight was extremely important for my country and team and for me,” he said. “I boxed for the whole country and half of the world.
“It also differed [from the first fight with Joshua] that I could not control my emotions, especially in round nine. That was the one surprising element.
“I saw in round eight in his eyes that he was feeling victorious already. I kept telling myself ‘you cannot stop, you cannot stop, you cannot stop.
“Some big things were at stake. And thank God the belts are coming back to Ukraine, victory is for us and Ukraine won.”
Usyk also said it was his fighting spirit as well as his skills that nullified Joshua’s physical advantage.
“The reason the belts are coming to Ukraine is that Anthony did not use his physical advantages until the end,” he said. “Size doesn’t matter when you are fighting, that was a real war in the ring and then size is not important. This is where real spirit works.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.