A politician has voiced his surprise that Ukrainians keen to watch arguably the greatest moment of their country’s sporting year had to do so on Russian TV.
While newly-crowned heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk shut out three-belt king Anthony Joshua in London, TV channels in his homeland dealt a low blow to boxing fans by failing to broadcast the thrilling scrap.
That meant that Usyk’s compatriots could not join the huge crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – and the vast audience around the world – in seeing their latest boxing great score a huge win that was shown on pay-per-view TV in the UK.
“Almost the entire population of Russia was worried and rooted for Usyk,” said Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the Federal Assembly of Russia, speaking to Sport Express.
“[Everyone in] Simferopol… was rooting for him, since he is from there. I am surprised that Usyk went out to battle with the banner of Ukraine and songs in the Ukrainian language.
“It is all the more surprising that the fight was not shown on Ukrainian television. All Ukrainians who wanted to see the fight watched on the Russian channel.”
The outlet suggested that, alongside the national football team’s advancement to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 in June and July, the fight had been the “main sporting event for Ukraine this year”.
Former cruiserweight Usyk produced an immensely accomplished performance to comprehensively beat British superstar Joshua on the scorecards, earning high praise from prominent figures in Ukraine who may have watched the bout on Russian channel Ren, which showed it for free.
Eddie: “Can’t wait to announce Joshua vs Fury. I wonder how many PPV buys it does?”
— Sheikh (@BoxingSheikh) September 26, 2021
“We all did not sleep, we all did not doubt, we all did not hold back our emotions,” responded Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president. “A difficult but therefore even more valuable victory. Bravo, champion.”
Manchester City and Ukraine wideman Oleksandr Zinchenko added that “there are no words” to do justice to the sensational victory. “Simply the best,” he concluded on Instagram.
Usyk extended his perfect professional career record to 19 wins with the triumph in front of well over 60,000 people.
The 34-year-old had not been considered as magnetic a ticket-seller as established poster boy Joshua, only to prove that he deserves more blockbuster nights among the elite after collecting the WBA Super, WBO, IBF and IBO titles.
Top Ukrainian tennis star Elina Monfils let her fans know that she was watching the fight on US channel DAZN, adding an animation of the national flag she shares with Usyk as she saw him prevail.
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