Berliner Boersenzeitung - Ex-champ from Ukraine fights with war and family on his mind

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Ex-champ from Ukraine fights with war and family on his mind
Ex-champ from Ukraine fights with war and family on his mind

Ex-champ from Ukraine fights with war and family on his mind

Ukrainian boxer Viktor Postol, a former world champion at 140 pounds, is thinking of his family and the war in his homeland as he prepares for a crucial fight Saturday.

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The 38-year-old fighter faces unbeaten American Gary Antuanne Russell in Las Vegas in a battle of contenders in the junior lightweight division, where British southpaw Josh Taylor is the undisputed champion.

But it's a struggle not to ponder the Russian soldiers who have invaded his homeland.

"The situation in Ukraine has escalated a lot and it's hard not to think about it," Postol said. "I'm working on focusing on the fight. My family is in the middle of everything, but they are safe and that's what is most important."

Postol, who held the World Boxing Council light-welterweight crown for nine months in 2015-16, has not fought since dropping a majority decision to American Jose Ramirez in August 2020 for two world titles.

"I feel young and strong. I believe in myself," Postol said. "I'm very confident that I will become world champion again. This fight is a step toward achieving that feat again."

Postol, 31-3 with 12 knockouts, faces a 25-year-old southpaw who was a 2016 Olympian and stands 14-0 with every victory by knockout.

"I hope with everything going on back home for Postol in Ukraine that it motivates him and makes him hungry to give the world a great fight," Russell said.

- Ancajas defends title -

The card at the Cosmopolitan also includes Filipino southpaw Jerwin Ancajas defending his International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight crown against undefeated Argentine Fernando Martinez.

It's the 10th time Ancajas, 33-1 with two drawn and 22 knockouts, has defended his title but the first time he has fought in boxing's legendary setting of Las Vegas.

"I'm very thankful for this opportunity to realize my dream and fight here in Las Vegas," Ancajas said. "I'm feeling very energetic and I can't wait to get into the ring."

With a victory, Ancajas hopes for a chance at one of his rival champions -- Japan's Kazuto Ioka, American Jesse Rodriguez or Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada.

"When I defend this title, then I want the unification fight next," Ancajas said. "I'm ready to go wherever I have to in order to get that fight. But I'm definitely not overlooking Martinez."

His South American enters 13-0 and hungry to take his first world title.

"This isn't my first rodeo," Martinez said. "I'm going to take everything I've learned to try to become the new champion."

(Y.Yildiz--BBZ)