Oleksandr Usyk performed a Ukrainian anthem about fighting for independence after warning Anthony Joshua he faces a continuation of the dismantling he endured in their first bout.
Dressed in a traditional Cossack outfit for the head-to-head press conference on Wednesday, the unified world champion remained on stage after he had faced off with Joshua to sing “Oi u luzi chervona kalyna”.
The 1875 call to arms was inspired by Ukraine’s 18th‑century battle for independence and is now intoned as a display of defiance in the face of Russia’s invasion.
Usyk served as a military volunteer in Kyiv before being told he would better represent his nation by successfully defending the WBA, IBF and WBO titles he seized from Joshua almost a year ago.
The rivals meet in Jeddah on Saturday and the undefeated 35‑year‑old fighter has told Joshua to expect more punishment from his fists. “We learned a lot about each other in the first fight. He learned about me and I learned about him,” Usyk said.
“But this is not going to be a new bout, it’s going to be the last bout continued for rounds 13, 14, 15 – for however long it lasts. We’ve had enough time to study each other and Saturday will be a great, great fight.
“We were born to compete at life, for belts, for anything. The one who does not compete, does not live. All our lives are competitions – for anything, for someone – that’s why we’re competing.”
For his part Joshua said he enjoyed the pressure surrounding the fight and intended to “get the job done”.
“That’s it, must win. I like the pressure,” Joshua said. “I want to compete. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t really say much else. You’ve got to have a competitive spirit.
“It’s competition right? We’ve set a goal. I’ve got goals I want to achieve in the ring on the night. I need to be disciplined enough to follow them through. That’s that competition with myself. You mention about the belt, they mean something, but that’s all at the end of the target. It’s not like I’m skipping the process. I’m focused on the process.”