Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua II: British challenger heavier than champion in Saudi Arabia


Venue: King Abdullah Sports City, Saudi Arabia Date: Saturday, 20 August
Coverage: Follow live text commentary and reaction on BBC Sport website & app from 21:30 BST.

Britain’s Anthony Joshua weighed in 23lbs heavier than champion Oleksandr Usyk for Saturday’s heavyweight world title rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Ukrainian Usyk was tipped to come in at a career-heaviest weight, but just about matched the previous fight by weighing in at 15st 11lbs (100.5kg).

Joshua, 32, came in at 17st 6lbs (110.9kg) with neither man showing any sign of nerves in the final face-off.

Usyk’s WBA (Super), WBO and IBF titles are on the line in Jeddah.

He is fractionally heavier than his last fight with Joshua when he weighed in at 220lbs, while Joshua is about 4lbs heavier.

Joshua cut a focused figure during the weigh-in, and the two-time world champion insisted there was nothing to glean from the final staredown.

“All this stuff – weight, face-off – none of it matters to me. I’m just looking forward to the fight,” he said.

Usyk is destined to be a future hall-of-famer, but there are still critics who feel he is not a natural heavyweight and too small for the division. He has competed just three times at heavyweight.

Speculation on the 35-year-old’s weight had been rife throughout fight week, with former British world champion Amir Khan – who visited Usyk in Dubai earlier this month – suggesting he may have put on as much as 30lbs since the last fight.

“You see, your expectations not every time are met,” Usyk said.

Oleksandr Usyk weighs in and flexes
Usyk was just slightly heavier than his last weigh-in

Analysis – Stage is set

After all the talk about Usyk’s weight, it was a bit of an anti-climax. I think we can all blame Amir Khan for that. Usyk tipped the scaled at pretty much the same as the first fight. We know what to expect from the champion; speed and utilising his ring craft.

Joshua’s weight gain is interesting. He was, as always, muscle bound. Although he says he is preparing for a 12-round contest, which is wise given his tendency to fatigue later in the fights, the general feeling is he will need a knockout to recapture the titles. Will those four and a half pounds give him that boost of power?

Anthony Joshua weighs in
Joshua gave little away but is 4lbs heavier than the last fight

So often in the sport, the boxing world can read far too much into body language. There was a long, intense staredown which was eventually broken by a friendly fist bump from Joshua into Usyk’s midriff. There is no bad blood between these two men. But they are two immense competitors.

The workout was open to the public, but global broadcasters and press made up most of the attendance. You can’t help but feel a bit disappointed there is not a bigger stage for a fight of this stature, a unified heavyweight rematch between two superstars.

The next time these two go face-to-face will be in the ring, with Usyk channelling the spirit of his nation and Joshua determined to prove his worth as an elite heavyweight.


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