Ukrainian Boxer Gives Up Title Match To Keep Fighting For His Homeland

D
Ukrainian boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko
instagram | @lomachenkovasiliy

A Ukrainian boxer has opted to fight for his country rather than participate in a world title fight.

Vasiliy Lomachenko, 34, is pulling out of the match, despite a big payday, to travel back to his home country to fight against the Russian invasion with a territorial defense battalion.

Lomachenko is one of the most successful amateur boxers of all time.

His accolades are impressive: world champion in three separate weight classes and two-time Olympic gold medalist. He turned pro in 2013 and became WBO featherweight champion in just his third fight.

He was set to fight for a title in Australia.

Vasiliy Lomachenko boxing champ
Getty Images | Rich Schultz

Now fighting as a lightweight, Lomachenko was set to fly to Melbourne to fight Australian George Kambosos Jr. in June. But those plans were made before Russia invaded Lomachenko's homeland.

Some things transcend boxing.

Kambosos, who Lomachenko was scheduled to fight, tweeted his support of the Ukrainian, saying he respects the decision. Kambosos threw in a dig at Devin Haney, who's been offered a spot in the fight, tweeting "please stay safe and once I wipe the floor with Devin, we will make this fight between two real champions."

Lomachenko will join a territorial defense battalion in Ukraine.

It's dangerous work, as the battalion will be patrolling areas near the Russian border. Because Ukraine is under a state of martial law, men between the ages of 18 and 60 are being asked to stay in the country and fight, though the law doesn't necessarily apply to athletes like Lomachenko.

Regardless, he's just one of many Ukrainian athletes who've returned home to fight for their country.

Heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk is fighting for his country as well.

Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk
Wikipedia | Andriy Makukha

Usyk, the current heavyweight champion, was born in Crimea. Like Lomachenko, he's put his boxing career on hold so he can fight for his country.

The Klitschko brothers have also joined defense battalions.

Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko
Wikipedia | Fuzheado

Wladimir (pictured) and Vitali Klitschko, two boxing legends and perhaps Ukraine's highest-profile public figures, have largely put their boxing days behind them. Still, both men will be in Ukraine to help patrol the border. Vitali Klitschko also serves as mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Ukrainians aren't going to let their country go without a fight.

A Ukrainian flag
Flickr | terracotta buff

By all accounts, the Ukrainian resistance has surprised Russian forces who were expecting a much smoother invasion. Fighting has been fierce, but so far, Ukraine has managed to hold strong in the face of a much more powerful enemy.

What do you think?

It's kind of mind-blowing to imagine someone leaving a big payday in order to return home and fight in a fierce conflict, but these are the things that sometimes happen in the course of a war.

In the comments, let us know what you think of Lomachenko, Usyk, the Klitschko brothers and all the other brave Ukrainians fighting for their country.

Filed Under: