Oleksandr Usyk has accomplished a lot in title reigns spanning two weight divisions.
He will enjoy a new experience ahead of his next title defense—overwhelming crowd support.
A round of raucous cheers broke out in support of the Ukrainian southpaw during Monday’s press conference to formally announce his unified heavyweight title defense versus Daniel Dubois. Their bout will take place August 26 on TNT Sports Pay-Per-View from Tarczynski Arena Wroclaw in Wroclaw, Poland, two days after Ukraine’s Independence Day.
“I’ve traveled the world fighting in the backyard of my opponents,” Usyk told the assembled media and intimate crowd on hand. “This fight here in Poland will be the closest I get to a homecoming. I hope you enjoy everything that will happen on August 26 in Wroclaw.”
Poland was selected as a destination due to its proximity to Ukraine and hospitality extended to its citizens and soldiers during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Usyk’s home country. Another reason was the fond memories experienced by Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) who claimed his first title with a September 2016 win over unbeaten WBO cruiserweight titlist Krzysztof Glowacki in Gdansk, Poland.
Usyk never fought outside of Ukraine prior to that point but has since played the role of road warrior.
The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist dethroned three unbeaten cruiserweight titlists in their home country—Glowacki in Poland, Mairis Briedis in Latvia and Murat Gassiev in Russia—to fully unify the division. Title defenses versus Michael Hunter and Tony Bellew also took place on the road as did his September 2021 win over Anthony Joshua to lift the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in North London.
Usyk repeated the feat last August 20, this time on somewhat neutral territory in Saudi Arabia but on a show presented by Matchroom Boxing, Joshua’s promoter.
The upcoming title defense versus Dubois (19-1, 18KOs)—who holds the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight title—sees Usyk’s team in full control. Alex Krassyuk, Usyk’s career-long promoter, invested heavily in the bout with a massive bid of $8,057,000 during a May 25 WBA purse bid hearing to bring the fight to Poland.
“I want to thank all of the troops who are defending Ukraine. Because of them, I have the opportunity to be here to defend my heavyweight titles,” Usyk stated. This country has always been kind to me. I became the WBO cruiserweight champion of the world here when I beat Krzysztof Glowacki. I have spent the past seven years collecting more world titles.
“Now I am back in Poland to defend (the unified heavyweight crown). Thank you to Poland for your support to the people in Ukraine.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox