JEDDAH: British boxer Anthony Joshua weighed in more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) heavier than defending champion Oleksandr Usyk on Friday ahead of their “Rage on the Red Sea” world title rematch in Saudi Arabia.
Two-time heavyweight champion Joshua tipped the scales at 110.9 kilos (244.5 pounds) while Ukraine’s Usyk weighed 100.5 kilograms (221.6 pounds), both similar to last year’s fight in London.
Usyk, 19-0 and the favorite after his unanimous decision on Joshua’s home turf, confounded predictions that he had packed on several kilos of muscle to counter the towering Joshua.
The fighters came face-to-face in a 90-second stare-down before shaking hands and posing for the cameras.
“All this stuff, weight, face-off, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about the fight,” Joshua said. “I’m just ready for 12 rounds, 100 percent. Anything shorter than that, it’s a bonus.”
Many commentators have written off Joshua after a hesitant showing against the quick and skillful Usyk at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September.
But the 6ft 6ins (1.98m) Briton, who is striving to become a three-time world champion, has promised to be more “competitive.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested Joshua will go for the knock-out.
Saturday’s clash will be the 12th consecutive world title fight for Joshua, the 24-2 former Olympic gold-medallist whose other professional defeat was a shock TKO by Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019.
Joshua avenged that loss six months later in the “Clash of the Dunes” in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, the first heavyweight world title fight in the Kingdom.
Elsewhere on the undercard, Saudi Arabia’s Ziyad Al-Maayouf will face Mexico’s Jose Alatorre on Saturday, and said earlier this week he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received and feels a little under the pressure with all eyes on him.
And in a moment of history for sport in Saudi Arabia, Somali-born Briton Ramla Ali will fight the Dominican Republic’s Crystal Garcia Nova in the first women’s professional boxing match in the Kingdom.
Also in an action-packed night of boxing, the Rage on the Red Sea undercard includes several other exciting fights, with former WBA and Ring magazine super-middleweight champion Callum Smith and former two-weight world champion Badou Jack both featuring.
* With AFP