Anthony Joshua weighed in 19 pounds heavier than Oleksandr Usyk ahead of the defence of his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles in London yesterday.
Britain’s Joshua, 31, tipped the scales at 240 pounds (109 kilograms), with the Ukrainian challenger coming in at a career-high 221.25 pounds. The two combatants had an intense stare-down before smiles broke out and Joshua accepted Usyk’s offer of a handshake.
Each fighter then turned to face the assembled media and a small crowd that had gathered at London’s O2 Arena, taking turns to flex their muscles, Joshua pointing to Usyk, who then reciprocated.
As well as his weight advantage, Joshua will have the edge in height and reach and is favourite with bookmakers, but Usyk’s movement and overall technical skillset from an awkward southpaw stance have led many seasoned observers to predict a close contest.
Joshua believes he is in the best shape and at the optimum weight to successfully defend his titles.
“I feel good,” he told Sky Sports. “It could fluctuate, go lower, due to the styles of opponents, but I feel good at this weight.
“Maybe if I’m fighting a shorter, stronger guy I might bulk up a bit, but I’ve got a good fighter with his legs, so I’m going to keep up with his footwork and hand speed and make sure I’m good right through for the duration.”
The fight is expected to draw a crowd of more than 60,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Usyk, 34, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion, won heavyweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics while Joshua triumphed in the super-heavyweight division.
Joshua is taking on his WBO mandatory challenger after a potential bout with Tyson Fury, the British WBC champion, fell through.
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