Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine
Ukraine's world heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk says he has “absolutely no fear” after taking up arms in Kiev to defend his homeland against invading Russian forces.
Usyk, holder of the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight straps after beating Britain's Anthony Joshua in London six months ago, has joined Ukraine’s territorial defence battalion.
Speaking from a basement in the Ukrainian capital, Usyk said through a translator that he was prepared to kill the enemy to defend his homeland.
"If they will want to take my life, or the lives of my close ones, I will have to do it," he said. "But I don't want that. I don't want to shoot, I don't want to kill anybody, but if they will be killing me, I will have no choice."
While Usyk admitted his bewilderment at an escalating situation that has shocked most of the rest of the world, the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion believes he is ready for whatever lies in front of him.
“Maybe, it will sound sentimental but my soul belongs to the Lord and my body and my honour belong to my country, to my family, so there is no fear, absolutely no fear,” Usyk told CNN.
“There’s just bafflement – how could this be in the 21st Century?"
Usyk, 35, admitted the rematch against Joshua – which was expected to take place this spring – was far from his thoughts, saying he did not know when he would return to the ring.
“I really don’t know when I’m going to be stepping back in the ring. My country and my honour are more important to me than a championship belt.”
Usyk has previously called on the Russian people to resist the war and for the country's president Vladimir Putin to engage in peace talks without pre-conditions or claims to Ukrainian territory.
Vasiliy Lomachenko, the three-weight world champion regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, has joined his compatriot Usyk by enlisting in the Ukraine military too.
Lomachenko's decision to enlist would appear to scupper his own plans of a June showdown against WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr.
Meanwhile, Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir – both former world heavyweight boxing champions – have appeared together calling for more support from allies to defend Ukraine.
Wladimir said there were “never enough” resources as the country’s infrastructure has been partially crippled by shelling during a “terrible advance” over the past few days.
Mayor Vitali and his brother thanked governments which had provided international help but said basic supplies like food and water were needed as well as more weapons.
In a joint interview on BBC News, Wladimir said: “It’s never enough. There’s huge demand because infrastructure is partially destroyed by the shelling that is happening all over the country in the different cities.
“It’s absolutely not enough and we definitely need to support and help – financial support, military equipment support, medical support.”
Vitali added: “Everyone has to be involved. It’s war not against Ukraine, it’s war against [all] civilians and it’s war against democracy. We need support – support from the whole world.”