Boxing-Usyk presented with Ukrainian painting ahead of Dubois fight

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's unified world heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk attends a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine September 2, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

(Reuters) - Heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk received a religious painting as a gift from the Ukrainian army ahead of Saturday's title fight with British challenger Daniel Dubois in Wroclaw, Poland.

The Ukrainian's promoter Alexander Krassyuk told a press conference on Thursday that the painted wood had once packaged shells used against Russian forces in the defence of the shattered eastern city of Bakhmut.

"On 24 August, the independence day of Ukraine, the military wanted Oleksandr Usyk to get this present," he said. "We know the real reason why they couldn't make it themselves and they asked me to deliver it.

"These were the guys you met on the front line several weeks are motivating them."

More than 1.6 million Ukrainians have sought temporary protection in Poland since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year and Usyk can count on strong support for Saturday's fight at the Tarczynski Arena.

The 36-year-old is defending his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts in his first fight since he beat Britain's Anthony Joshua on a split decision a year ago in Saudi Arabia.

Usyk is undefeated in 20 professional fights with 13 knockouts and the overwhelming favourite while Dubois has won 19 of his 20 bouts, losing one.

Dubois, 25, is the WBA (Regular) heavyweight belt holder and mandatory challenger.

The two faced off at the press conference without incident, both saying they were ready and sharing a fist-bump.

"Everything is about timing," Dubois told the BBC. "This is the time of the young dog. The young blood to come in here and steal the show."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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