The noise and evening talk of a French restaurant crackles down the line as the man who cooked dinner for a heavyweight British dream dog settles down for a bite to eat. It is a feast fit for a king and Oleksandr Usyk has earned the right to enjoy it.
“Tonight, the chef of the restaurant is cooking food from his region, where he comes from,” Usyk explains from Ukraine. ‘We are not asking for anything, they are just serving us the food that he cooked.’
That’s one of the benefits of life among the giants: Heavyweight champions cannot hand over their title to the scale.
Oleksandr Usyk has spoken with Sportsmail on his boxing plans after his win at Anthony Joshua
Usyk (right) is the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO title holder after beating Joshua (left) last month.
“This is how we are going to spend a romantic evening with my wife and friends,” adds Usyk. The 34-year-old is talking to Sportsmail through its promoter and translator Alex Krassyuk. Briefly, however, Usyk breaks the range to explain in English: ‘My love eats, it’s Italian … the pizza, the pasta, yes!’
Restaurants have become a family haven in the weeks since he tormented, and nearly brought down, Anthony Joshua.
Most fighters would dine a lifetime on such a masterful victory. It’s a shame that most could only dream of boxing with such a poetic license to blur. Particularly in front of 66,000 fans crying out for blood in a Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Fortunately, Usyk, the undefeated warrior of the boxing path, has become used to leaving scorched earth behind his feet. And so, even with compatriot Vitali Klitschko in the ring, the victory over Joshua offered little reason for extravagance.
The Ukrainian admitted he couldn’t sleep after beating Joshua in London on September 25.
We went back to the hotel. I ate, my people asked me for some tasty food, I was in my room, I went to (bed) but I couldn’t fall asleep until morning, ‘Usyk says.
How did you toast to capturing three parts of the world heavyweight title? “I was eating buckwheat chicken soup with mushrooms.”
Hardly the stories of hedonism that followed AJ’s previous defeat, right? Parties, parades and marriage proposals followed Andy Ruiz Jr.’s surprising victory in New York.
“That is absolutely correct,” Usyk says. ‘I’m not going to celebrate it like Andy Ruiz did!’
His drink at dinner suggests the same thing: “Everyone enjoys the taste of wine and I still enjoy the taste of still water.”
British boxing has spent the last few weeks cleaning up the rubble of an undisputed fight that was close to being. And it may never be. However, when it comes to the side dishes, Usyk vs Tyson Fury seems palatable enough.
Now, only a rematch with Joshua stands between the Ukrainian and that shot at immortality. It would be a fascinating clash of boxing brains and crazy characters.
“A very interesting fight,” Usyk says. More to his liking, no doubt, than Fury’s recent win over Deontay Wilder.
Joshua isn’t the only Briton in Usyk’s sights, with Tyson Fury (right) also a potential opponent.
One of the big heavyweight nights? Not for the new king of the WBA, WBO and IBF.
“ I saw the fight, but I didn’t think about it much, ” he says. “They just wanted to kill each other.”
Usyk chose to celebrate his own victory without Las Vegas pool parties or celebrity DJs.
Instead, he sought to make up for lost time and pay back the cost of his dreams. Very few fighters have cleared at cruiserweight before conquering the land of the giants. None achieved it without sacrificing the quieter life. Not surprisingly, shortly after the final bell in London, the Ukrainian longed to water his apple trees and resume his school career.
Usyk revealed that he saw Fury’s win over Deontay Wilder this month, but didn’t enjoy it.
“I have spent time with my children,” explains the 34-year-old. ‘I’ve been fishing, walking around doing nothing. Just relaxing… nothing changed much. I keep thanking the Lord for everything I have in my life. I keep cheering, loving life and spending my time doing the things I love. ”
They include more an observation summary. “My son plays soccer,” Usyk says. And that’s why he’s been a regular on the touchline in Kyrylo’s recent games.
“He’s playing defense, sometimes he moves forward and dreams of becoming a world champion.”
Like his father, then, in 19 professional fights, no one has found a way to cope with Usyk’s ability to slip between front and rear foot.
Usyk (above) has been celebrating Joshua’s victory in Ukraine with his family and children.
The question arises: who is the harshest critic? Does Usyk give your son a tougher time in soccer than he gets for his own exploits in the ring?
“We have no criticism in our relationship, he is too young to criticize his father!” Usyk says. ‘And I’m not going to criticize my son, I’m just going to help him.’
Normal service was recently resumed when the Ukrainian’s three sons saw their father fight on foreign soil. The victory in London followed world titles in Gdansk, Berlin, Riga, California, Maryland, Moscow and Manchester.
“My daughter saw it live because it aired quite late and my children watched it late,” Usyk explains.
So what was your verdict when you returned home after three months in the camp?
“They were giving me hugs because I came back very late, even early in the morning, and when they went to school, I was sleeping,” he says. “ At night, when they came back, they just gave me hugs and congratulated me. ”
It won’t be long before I walk out that door once more. Joshua has activated his right to an immediate rematch, scheduled for spring 2022.
Joshua (left) has activated a rematch clause to bring Usyk into the beginning of 2022
Andy Ruiz Jr (above) beat Joshua in 2019 but lost to the British heavyweight six months later.
Usyk still hopes for a glorious homecoming in Kiev, but he knows full well that boxing pays less attention to champions’ rights than decimal points. At least no amount of money or advantage of playing at home can erase the memory of those 36 minutes, for either of you.
Three linger on Usyk’s mind longer than most: “The Twelfth Round,” he says, before unleashing one of his mischievous and sinister laughs. “It was the final and decisive round … it was difficult.”
For Joshua, more than the challenger, who seemed to be on the verge of a surprising stop in those final seconds. It’s no wonder, perhaps, that AJ is considering a change.
The dethroned champion has been on a road trip across the United States, stopping at various gyms in search of potential new coaches before next year’s rematch. Usyk has not lost development, not even during his own tour of local restaurants.
“Of course I saw the videos because we are collecting all the information,” he says. But I don’t think about this because it’s Anthony’s business, let him do what he wants. Thank God I have everything (sorted) in my team, all members are in place, so everything is fine. ”
The British boxer (left) has been on a road trip across America looking for a new coach.
Footage has also surfaced of Joshua hitting stationary targets at a shooting range. Some cruel observers suggest that the pistol represents AJ’s only chance of getting his belts back. Usyk also has an accountant for that.
“I have two guns,” he says, with all the self-assurance of a fighter comfortable with his own pre-fight routine. Usyk acclimatized for fight week in London watching Peaky Blinders. But those last hours were spent in church, at lunch, and in bed. Another laugh falls through the phone as he explains the content of those sentences.
“ I was just thanking the Lord that everything is fine in my life. ” He has been quite generous during the last decade, in which the Ukrainian won Olympic gold and everything that is offered in the paid ranks. Now 34, how much longer will he continue?
“I would not like to talk about this, but in my mind, everything is settled,” says Usyk. “It is not decided yet, but it is still a plan.”
Acting is another world he wants to conquer, but the Ukrainian previously rejected Sylvester Stallone’s attempts to include him in Creed II.
Usyk’s eyes will never stray too far from the horizon. Even now, when a possible undisputed fight with Fury is at hand. ‘Nerd. I’m not a predictor, ”Usyk says.
Instead, the focus remains on the task at hand. And the next dish is on the way.