Oleksandr Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk described the sense of escapism his winning the undisputed heavyweight title will have delivered to those in Ukraine who remain under siege.

It is more than two years since Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian army to invade their neighbouring country, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths and forcing countless others to repeatedly fight for their lives.

The 37-year-old Usyk’s victory over Tyson Fury came a week after his fellow Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko stopped George Kambosos Jr but represented a considerably higher-profile occasion. It also made him the first undisputed heavyweight champion since the great Lennox Lewis in 1999.

In a thrilling fight at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Usyk threatened to stop the previously undefeated Fury in the ninth round, and perhaps even deserved more than the split decision he was awarded at the final bell. 

“This is a very sensitive issue for all Ukrainians,” said Krassyuk, his compatriot. “Usyk fought three fights [victories over Anthony Joshua, Daniel Dubois and Fury] after the Russian invasion started. I don’t want to speak too much about what’s going on – everyone knows. The horrible war is taking place in Ukraine and people are suffering – a lot of people are suffering.

“Usyk is the icon for new generations; for current generations. He’s the icon – the example – for children. Many people think he’s one of the most well recognised personalities in Ukraine, and probably one of the most respected. This is well deserved, because his achievements in sports are something you can’t find really often. The guy has completed everything possible. 

“He started boxing when he was 15. He became the national Ukrainian champion. Then he became the European amateur champion; world amateur champion; Olympic champion. Then he became the undisputed cruiserweight champion. For a normal athlete, it’s time to stop, but not for Usyk, so he starts his journey at heavyweight.

“He beats Anthony Joshua, which is a surprise for everyone. He beats him again in the rematch. What’s next? Undisputed. But it took us almost three years to make it happen. It’s accomplished, and the guy has achieved a result that had never been achieved before.

“I want to thank the Ukrainian soldiers who are now fighting for the freedom of our country. They’re real heroes. Usyk is fighting because of them – because they give him this possibility.”

The 35-year-old Fury, widely recognised for his powers of recovery, was given a standing count in the ninth round when perhaps only the ropes were holding him up.

“The ref saved Tyson from a knockout, and he stole the ninth-round knockout which should have happened,” Krassyuk said. “I really think the referee has stolen the KO victory of Usyk. 

“He should have stopped the fight, and he should have jumped in. He should have given Usyk the chance to finish, and then the bell… But it’s not disrespect to the referee. It’s just my humble opinion. No criticism.

“I had the impression that Usyk won seven rounds; one point deduction for the knockdown. Not even that close.

“No doubt about it [the rematch is on course for October].”

Krassyuk was also asked whether Usyk had established himself as the world’s finest fighter, after almost a year of Terence Crawford and Naoya Inoue being considered by almost all observers the leading two. 

“Pound for pound is something that you cannot measure,” he responded. “Pound for pound is something – people get together and define, ‘This man is pound for pound’, but next Monday he’s not pound for pound. He’s the two-time undisputed champion, cruiserweight and heavyweight. 

“Is he pound-for-pound? Only God knows. He’s definitely a Hall of Fame – that’s what I can tell for sure.”