Oleksandr Usyk claims he is “not worried” at the prospect of facing Russian-born Murat Gassiev in Moscow this Saturday night.
The 31-year-old (14-0-KO11) is targeting a place in history by becoming the first man in the cruiserweight division to hold all four recognised titles at one time, and is confident that the Olimpiyskiy location will not influence the outcome of the inaugural 200lbs World Boxing Super Series final as he seeks to add his opponent’s WBA and IBF belts to his WBC and WBO crown.
“My biggest wish is for such fights and tournaments to take place as often as possible,” said Usyk.
“Then, the boys will be more interested in going into boxing. I’m not worried about boxing in Moscow. It’s a good thing that the fight takes place.
“To me, it’s a common thing to go somewhere and box there.”
Gassiev (26-0-KO19) booked his place in the final by knocking out Yunier Dorticos in the final round of a dramatic contestin February.
The Able Sanchez-trained fighter produced the performance a week after Usyk’s own fight-of-the-year contender victory over Mairis Bredis, and the Ukrainian believes the “respect” he has subsequently received from Russians will make for a great representation of the sport this weekend.
“When I came to watch Murat’s fight in Sochi [against Gassiev], his compatriots approached me and congratulated me on making it to the final,” he said.
“This is what respect means; when you support your favourite without badmouthing his opponent. This is respect, and it’s a common thing. It doesn’t matter what country or city you represent.
“If you are an educated man, you respect your opponent, his team and all those people around, then you are truly a human being.”
By Neel Khagram @behindthefight