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Ukrainian MMA star Olena Kolesnyk backs Usyk in Anthony Joshua rematch but faces watching boxing hero fight to catch up

MMA star Olena Kolesnyk backs Oleksandr Usyk against Anthony Joshua, but faces watching the boxing hero's rematch to catch up. Usyk, who beat Jos


MMA star Olena Kolesnyk backs Oleksandr Usyk against Anthony Joshua, but faces watching the boxing hero’s rematch to catch up.

Usyk, who beat Joshua last September, defends his belt against the British superstar on Saturday in Saudi Arabia.

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On the same night in London, Kolesnyk faces Larissa Pacheco in the semifinal of this year’s Professional Fighters League.

The lightweight is one win away from the final $1 million winner-takes-all fight.

Meanwhile, Usyk’s win over AJ again puts him in line for an undisputed title decider with 34-year-old Tyson Fury.

Kolesnyk, 32, backs his former amateur boxing teammate through and through, but may have to record the fight before cheering him on.

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She told SunSport: “My fight is No6 or No7, so it will be close.

“I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance, but I’ll definitely watch his fight the next day.”

Usyk, 35, beat Joshua, 32, on points at Tottenham’s stadium and Kolesnyk predicts a repeat result.

She said: “I personally know Oleksandr Usyk, when I was in the women’s national boxing team, he was in the Ukraine men’s national boxing team.

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“I am sure this fight will be interesting, but there is no other option than Usyk to win this fight.

“I don’t see how Anthony Joshua can beat Usyk, but otherwise it’s a boxing match and anything can happen.

“But for my part, of course I wish Oleksandr the best.”

Kolesnyk signed last year with the PFL, the only MMA promotion with a league format.

The fighters have a regular season of two fights, where points are earned by method of victory.

The top four then advance to the play-offs, which is a semi-final and final with the victors pocketing the life-changing $1 million (£827,000) check.

Last year, Kolesnyk lost twice, but this season she advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over 22-year-old Abby Montes and 34-year-old Vanessa Melo.

And he did it while his country is still at war, leaving his loved ones behind.

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Kolesnyk said: “It is difficult, I will not hide it. What I can do is inspire some people in my country not to give up.

“He is everything to me, he has kept me focused on the main objective, on the fight, so I am very happy to be where I am now.”

Kolesnyk faces Pacheco, 27, at the Copper Box in a rematch of the fight he lost last year.

Olena Kolesnyk photographed training in Las Vegas

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