26 Mar

"I weighed 87 or 86 kg." Usyk Revisits the 2012 Olympic Final

In a new interview on the YouTube channel USYK17, Ukrainian heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk revisited his decisive bout against Clemente Russo at the 2012 London Olympics.

- You find out you're in the final against someone who beat you at the last Olympics. Your thoughts? Time for revenge, or is it a completely different story?

- Time for revenge. He's a very tricky guy. Like a spider. With very fast hands and powerful leg speed. He exploded so quickly and hit very fast. Even just with this part of the glove (shows thumb).

You had to catch him on the counter or break through. Because he was quick, small. And it motivated me.

You know, when I was at my first Olympics and lost to him, the fight could have gone either way. The score was 4-7, I think. I thought I was a bit robbed. It was only later, as I matured in boxing, here (points to his head), that you understand if your hand isn't raised – you've lost. Means you had to do a bit more to win.

I really wanted to make my father proud. He was already ill then. After winning, I came back to my room and talked to him. He says: "That's it, Sanya, well done." He even said something like: "I can die now."

- First round 1-3 in favor of Russo. How do you solve this problem?

- Press and hit. And when you land – repeat and again. That was the plan – when he rushes, immediately counter and repeat. But I wasn't panicking. I roughly understood that the first round might not go my way.

Anatoly Lomachenko, the boxing wizard, says start. It felt like you couldn't step back. Everything – forward. After the first round, that's roughly how it went.

Maybe it doesn't look it, but I was so tired inside. But you're like: "Must, must, must, must..." There's a moment when the camera turns to me when I'm in the corner, you can see my cheeks have sunk in. I weighed 87 or 86 kg.

- Did you do the work in the second round that you planned?

- Yes, needed to pressure and hit. He would extend his hand forward and immediately rush. I also extended my hand. And when he rushed, that's when I countered. And when he stopped, I immediately worked body-head. Even when he held me, just from below, from the side.

He was running out of oxygen. He started to "breathe." I saw it and started to hit the body. The second round was a turning point.

- Last round – the score is 8-8. What do you need to do from a technical standpoint?

- Ah, what technique. Just hit him. Go and hit. But not so, throwing yourself at him. Prepare the ground for the punch. Plant the potato. Prepare the soil. Landed, shifted, landed again.

In the third round, it was like, this is it. Nothing more after this. This is the final.

- He came at you very openly. Is that what was required?

- Of course. A person, when they attack unprepared, is vulnerable. You can predict them. And land a "plushie."

And if you prepare that attack. Disperse or move to the side in defense, it'll be different. But going forward – boom towards you, and that's it. Every advance needs to be prepared.

When they raised my hand, I exhaled so much. As if I exhaled a hundred kilograms.

The joy of victory didn't come right away. I later spoke with Gvozdyk or with Kapitonenko. One of them said: "You'll wake up famous the next day." I didn't believe it, and they say: "You'll see, now that you're about to go out."

The next day, Berinchyk and I went to swap pins. Going back at the gates of the Olympic village, there are always a lot of people who can't get inside. And some journalist says: "Is that Usyk?" Well, I knew what was coming. And Berinchyk's like: "Yes-yes, that's Usyk." Sold me out. They swarmed me there. That was my first autograph session.

And Berinchyk swapped his pins and says we can go. I'll remember this setup. I'll get him. Hear that, Berik, I'll give it to you. Hard.

About the third day, when we were about to go home, there was even some disappointment inside. Because it's the end of something to which you've dedicated so much time and effort. And then the thoughts: "Pro or not, what to do? Should I stay for another season?"

Oleksandr Usyk participated in two Olympics – in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London. In 2008, he left without medals – winning in the first match against a Chinese athlete, but losing in the second to the Italian Clemente Russo. In 2012, Oleksandr successively defeated Artur Beterbiev (17-13), Tervel Pulev (21-5), and Clemente Russo (14-11).

Usyk also revisited his fight against Beterbiev and addressed why the Russian believes he won.