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Fury vs Usyk: 'We all slept with machine guns' - what Oleksandr Usyk represents going to the biggest bout of all

Oleksandr Usyk has become a national hero in war-torn Ukraine, going into his undisputed championship clash Tyson Fury he is inspired by his countrymen and determined to deliver a message; watch Fury vs Usyk this Saturday live on Sky Sports Box Office

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Mykhailo Mudryk and Vitaliy Mykolenko give their support to fellow Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, as he prepares for the much-anticipated world heavyweight unification fight against Tyson Fury

Oleksandr Usyk stands for something. He is an “icon” in Ukraine, thanks to a remarkable decision he made.

In 2022 he was already the unified WBO, WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion, about to confirm a highly lucrative rematch with Anthony Joshua.

But when Russia invaded his homeland, he walked away from that. He went straight back to Ukraine to take up arms and defend his country, enlisting in the territorial defence force.

"He is Ukrainian, we are all Ukrainians. At the time the invasion started we all slept with machine guns," his promoter Alex Krassyuk told Sky Sports.

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Oleksandr Usyk's camp jokingly say that Tyson Fury could be in an underwear advert and believe he is too skinny

"We didn't know what was going to happen in the morning. Maybe we would have to face the enemy at our door, the entrance door to our houses.

"So at that time we all did that and he was not an exception. Immediately the same day he [Usyk] took hold of his weapons and joined the forces in his region."

Later Usyk received permission to represent his country on the world stage as a boxer, beating Joshua a second time in their rematch. With the Ukrainian flag draped over shoulders, he performed with a message.

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Oleksandr Usyk watches on as Tyson Fury pretends to play the guitar during his media workout

"He is the diamond of Ukraine, he is the national hero of Ukraine, he is the so-called idol, the character who makes new generations follow his road. An icon," Krassyuk added.

"Not because he is a good fighter, because he is a charismatic personality, that's because his principles of life.

"He is pushing some narratives, some very proper narratives that inspire people, that lead people to success, that lead people to a good life."

Now Usyk is going into the biggest boxing match of all, the first undisputed heavyweight championship fight in 25 years against WBC titlist Tyson Fury.

Usyk is in turn inspired by his countrymen. He hopes his performance against Fury might raise morale back home.

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Oleksandr Usyk was tight-lipped on what his approach for Tyson Fury would be, but did reveal he has a great plan!

"I want to be like that," Usyk told Sky Sports. "Because I receive a lot messages from my fans. I really appreciate the support from my fans and Ukrainian soldiers.

"For me it's important. A lot of people say to me: 'Yeah, come on, let's go we support you. Alex, you can.

"'You win, you can, you're strong.

"It's my motivation," he added. "It's my motivation. Because a lot of people believe in me. I must give back."

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Ahead of Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury's face-off on Saturday night, Fraser Clarke says that Fury 'doesn't want to give 1 per cent away' in his preparation for the fight and that Usyk's ' sacrifices will drive him on'

Usyk is the smaller man going up against the six foot nine inch Fury. He will have to find way to overcome those advantages his gigantic opponent possesses with speed, skill and guile. That would represent something too.

For Krassyuk, Usyk stands for a simple thing. "Victory. Victory. It's only about victory," the promoter said.

"Only about victory."

It's one of the biggest sporting events in a generation. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book the fight now.

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