Usyk and Joshua share intense staredown before Saudi rematch (VIDEO)
After suggesting in the lead-in to the fight that he would be at a career-high weight for his world title rematch with Anthony Joshua on Saturday night, undefeated world champion Aleksandr Usyk delivered on his word – just about – as the two rivals shared a near two-minute staredown ahead of their clash in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Ukraine's Usyk tipped the scales at 221lbs at the pre-fight weigh-in, around a half-pound heavier than he was for last October's first fight which he won by unanimous decision.
Joshua, by comparison, registered a weight of 244lbs – some 4lbs heavier than he was in their first outing in London last year.
Usyk's weight was an interesting one. All week, the media talk was that he would opt to come in significantly heavier in a bid to neutralize the weight advantage that the 6ft 6in Joshua will bring with him to the ring amid speculation that the Briton will adopt a for more aggressive strategy in their second fight.
A series of what are now to be considered misleading photographs, as well as an erroneous statement from retired boxer Amir Khan in which he estimated that Usyk had put on nearly 30lbs, had suggested that the Ukrainian would be significantly heavier.
“He looks a lot bigger, I mean he was telling me that he's put on an extra 15 kilos since he last fought AJ,” Khan said to Seconds Out.
“So, we're going to see how much strength he's going to be having. He looks like a full-on natural heavyweight. He is big and looks very strong.”
Joshua, who like Usyk is a former Olympic gold medalist, was criticized in some quarters for attempting to ditch his usual powerhouse style in a bid to outbox the technically superior Usyk first time around.
This had led to intense speculation that Usyk would pile on the pounds in advance on Saturday's fight – and the Ukrainian star was quick to point out to the assembled media that they shouldn't believe everything they hear.
“You see your expectations are not always met,” he said after weighing in.
Joshua, meanwhile, refused to be drawn into talk that the extended faceoff showed that this fight now comes with an added layer of intrigue.
“I always say for me personally face-offs don't mean nothing. Just about the bell ringing and us throwing leather, face-offs don't win fights,” he said.
“I'll be honest all this stuff doesn't matter, it's just about the fight. Weight, face-offs, none of it matters to me, just looking forward to the fight.
“I'm just ready for 12 rounds, 100%, anything short of that is a bonus.”