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Ukraine boxing champ Usyk to star in MMA movie with the Rock

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Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian boxer who in May became the undisputed heavyweight champion, is set to star in the movie “The Smashing Machine” alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt.

Usyk, who defeated Tyson Fury last month to gain the heavyweight title, will portray Igor Vovchanyn, a retired Ukrainian mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor and kickboxing champion from the Kharkiv region.

In the film, Vovchanyn fights against Johnson’s character, American Mark Kerr, a former MMA champion nicknamed “The Smashing Machine.” The movie, being produced by A24 studio, is based on the Kerr’s life and rise through the MMA world which was unfortunately derailed by opioid addiction. The film is scheduled to be released next year.

“I have huge respect for Oleksandr Usyk and [it] will be my honor to share the ring with him — as he knocks my jaw into next week,” Johnson said in a post on Instagram.

“Don’t break my jaw, champ,” Johnson added.

It is not the first movie role for Usyk. The boxer starred in the Ukrainian movie “Rules of the Fight” and voiced a bandit in a Ukrainian cartoon “Stolen Princess.”

Rumors of his first Hollywood role appeared in May, but both he and Johnson officially confirmed the role this week.

 Usyk has become a fan favorite in many countries. Well aware of his rather mediocre English-language skills, Usyk has made his 2018 answer to a reporter’s question on how he feels as a heavyweight champion into his trademark phrase: “I am feel, I am very feel!”

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