'I have big connection with Muhammad Ali, to not take part is betrayal' - Usyk on WBSS final
Usyk puts his WBO and WBC cruiserweight belts on the line against IBF & WBA champion Gassiev in the final, as well as the right to claim the WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy and $50 million prize money.
The 31-year-old says he feels that if he hadn't attempted to win the trophy, it would have been a "betrayal" on his part of the seminal three-time heavyweight champion, with whom he also shares a birthday on January 17.
"I am very feel," Usyk said after weighing in within the cruiserweight limit at 89.9kg, a reference to an earlier comment he made in broken English, which he has turned into a catchphrase.
"I have a big connection with this legendary boxer. We were born on the same day, that’s true. When I knew the tournament for the Muhammad Ali trophy would take place, I couldn’t believe it," Usyk said.
"But when all the guys taking part signed contracts, I thought if I didn’t also sign up, it would be a kind of betrayal on my part, and naturally I signed a contract," he added.
The Ukrainian, fighting out of the country's capital of Kiev, will be aiming to hand Gassiev his first loss in a 26-fight unblemished career that has yielded 19 knockouts, making him one of the most feared punchers in the sport.
Although Usyk has only 14 fights to his name, he has a wealth of amateur experience that saw him become world, European and Olympic champion before turning professional in 2013, winning his first world belt just three years later.
The fighter admitted Saturday's bout is evenly poised, but that the result of the fight was not in his immediate thoughts.
"We (Gassiev and Usyk) are of the same weight. But seriously, the only thing I can think of now is eating. I am a little hungry right now," he joked.
The enigmatic Usyk then signed off with a word to the gathered fans:“I want to thank the fans for coming, a lot of my close friends came here today. Tomorrow Murat and I will put on a brilliant fight. Peace to everyone."