Klitschko brothers' rivals unite to pay respect to Ukraine boxing champions as they risk their lives fighting Russia

FORMER rivalries have been set aside as boxers pay their respects to the brave Klitschko brothers.

Vitali, 50, and Wladimir, 45, are in the 'biggest fight of their lives' as they defend Ukraine from Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Vitali was an undefeated WBC heavyweight champion and is the mayor of the besieged capital, Kyiv.

Meanwhile brother Wladimir, also a former heavyweight champ, has been urging world leaders to 'act now' as thousands of terrified Ukrainians continue to flee their homes.

Previously fierce opponents have acknowledged the courageous soldiers.

Current champ Tyson Fury – who faces Dillian Whyte at Wembley next month – defeated Wladimir in 2015.

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The 'Gypsy King' praised the actions of the front line fighters.

He said: "I think it's fantastic that they are defending their country. I'd be there first if England got involved – or America. 

"If you come from a country, you should defend it. Love your wife and fight for your country.”

Eddie Chambers was KO'd by Wladimir in 2010 but is thinking of the brothers in this tough time.

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Chambers said: "I pray for Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko – and all the innocent people in Ukraine!"

Ross Puritty, now 55, managed to beat Wladimir during his career but lost to Vitali by a technical knockout.

He explained: "What the Klitschkos are doing is extremely patriotic and exceptionally selfless. 

"Their love for their country is so much greater. 

"Most boxers, and anyone as rich and successful as they are, would not risk their lives."

Kevin Johnson, who lost to Vitali in 2009, also joined the collective admiration.

He is stuck in Germany on a visa situation and even said would join the pair if he could.

The 42-year-old said: "The Klitschkos are doing a wonderful thing. I fully support them. It is unfortunate that because of my situation in Germany I can't help them on site. I would risk my life for them.”

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