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Oleksandr Usyk v Daniel Dubois: Gift from Ukraine Presented to Heavyweight Champ at Press Conference

In the run-up to their heavyweight clash in Poland this Saturday, Oleksandr Usyk met Daniel Dubois face-to-face, honoring his home country of Ukraine.

Thursday's press conference was more about respect than combat, coinciding with the celebration of Ukraine's Independence Day.

At 36, Usyk was bestowed a unique present from the Ukrainian military - an icon depicted on a wooden plank, a symbol used by the country's soldiers.

The gift from the Ukrainian Military given to Usyk
At a Press Conference for his upcoming bout with Daniel Dubois, Usyk was bestowed a unique present from the Ukrainian military - an icon depicted on a wooden plank, a symbol used by the country's soldiers.

Expectations are that thousands of Ukrainian refugees will be present to witness the fight.

The media-only gathering occurred precisely a year and a half after the onset of Russia's invasion and three decades after Ukraine's liberation from the Soviet Union.

The press room at Tarczynski Arena, an open-air venue also hosting soccer team Slask Wroclaw, was mostly occupied by Ukrainian media for Saturday's match.

Oleksandr Usyk, the holder of WBO, WBA (Super), and IBF titles, made his entrance in a vibrant green embroidered shirt, greeted with courteous applause from numerous Ukrainian journalists.

Daniel Dubois was subtler in appearance, donned in a matching grey tracksuit.

Former global champ Prince Naseem Hamed shared the top table with the fighters and their promoters, addressing Dubois affectionately. Hamed's son, Aadam, will make his pro debut on the undercard.

Ukrainian war efforts were acknowledged right from the beginning by Usyk's promoter, Alexander Krassyuk.

"Our soldiers battle on the front line to protect our homeland," he declared. "Ukraine wages this war for our freedom. May God be with Ukraine and its people."

Usyk, the ex-undisputed cruiserweight king, earned his initial world title in Poland, defeating Krzysztof Glowacki in 2016.

His upcoming fight in Poland has a different backdrop, with around 40,000 attendees anticipated, predominantly Ukrainians living in the country.

Since the invasion started, nearly 1.5 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in Poland.

Usyk was swarmed by fans during Wednesday's public practice, where he performed juggling acts, danced, and rapped to entertain those in the scorching heat.

Keeping his remarks brief and poignant, Usyk thanked his kin and Ukrainian soldiers, announcing his readiness, referencing his training with dancing and football.

Dubois, a major underdog in his debut world title fight, confidently expressed he was "prepared" to defy expectations against the undefeated Usyk.

In an interview with BBC Sport, the WBA's mandatory challenger stated his intent to prove he is the best, saying: "The young blood is here to steal the show."

A Champion Stands Against a Mighty Underdog

This weekend, Oleksandr Usyk puts an unbeaten record, three heavyweight titles, and a nation's aspirations on the line.

If he's feeling the tension, he's hiding it well. Always poised before a big match, there's never any sign of anxiety. This is his domain.

Often the jester at media functions, Usyk chose to be more stern, conveying his direct support for Ukraine in English.

Dubois, though not a prolific speaker, expressed his readiness succinctly.

For the first time, Dubois is not favored to win.

Despite being praised for his ferocious power by sparring partners and trainers, after a loss to Joe Joyce and three knockdowns against Kevin Lerena, questions linger about his capacity to excel under the spotlight, surrounded by a boisterous crowd.

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