Former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was delighted that his countryman, Oleksandr Usyk, had just become the first undisputed heavyweight champion for 25 years.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Usyk completed his collection of belts by adding Tyson Fury’s WBC strap to his WBA, IBF and WBO titles. Klitschko, whose long reign was ended by Fury in 2015, had held all of the titles bar the WBC, which was held by his big brother Vitali for sections of his own championship run.

That, however, was a sidebar to the main story, which is that the two heavyweight greats have proudly represented Ukraine, a country that has been through so much since Russia’s invasion more than two years ago, with dignity and honor.

“This historic win is not just important for Oleksandr Usyk,” Wladimir Klitschko told Sky Sports’ Andy Scott. “Can you imagine how much pressure this man had these past weeks and here in this ring? Definitely, losing was not an option. He showed once that he was great as a cruiserweight, but even more surprisingly for a lot of people and it doesn’t matter how big, how tall, how heavy, what his reach is and how mobile Tyson Fury was, Oleksandr Usyk showed he is the best fighter in modern history.

“I’m very proud of Oleksandr Usyk and I’m very proud to be Ukrainian.”

Klitshcko admitted he was uncertain what the judges might come up with when he heard there was a split decision, but Usyk had done enough, cementing it with a huge ninth-round which Fury did well to survive.

“When you’re counting the points, you cannot be 100 per cent sure in boxing and the judges ruled the way Oleksandr Usyk deserved that fight,” Klitschko added. “Hands down, outstanding performance by both fighters. I’m surprised how Tyson Fury made it out of the ninth round to the end of the fight but he did. Let’s give him respect.

“Most importantly, Oleksandr stayed firm and did what he was supposed to do become heavyweight champion of the world; Ukrainian heavyweight champion of the world.”  

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