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Usyk, AJ weigh in heavier for title return

Ukraine’s defending world champion Oleksandr Usyk and British challenger Anthony Joshua have hit the scales heavier than before ahead of their heavyweight title rematch in Saudi Arabia.

Usyk weighed in at 100.5kg for Saturday’s contest, barely changed from before although still the heaviest of his career, while Joshua was 110.9kg – very slightly more than when he lost the titles last September in London.

Former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Usyk had been expected to bulk up considerably for his first defence of the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts in Jeddah.

“You see, your expectations are not always met,” the 35-year-old unbeaten champion said unsmilingly when asked if he had been tricking everyone ahead of the ‘Rage on the Red Sea’ clash.

Joshua went first, keeping on his trousers and socks, before the two big men stood face-to-face after the weigh-in, staring fixedly at each other for a considerable perioid of time with Usyk looking up at his taller opponent.

Asked what he had seen in Joshua’s eyes, the Ukrainian replied: “Myself. It was the reflection of myself.”

Joshua, 32, shrugged off the pre-fight psychology when asked what went through his mind.

“Not much. Just a face-off. For me, personally, face-offs don’t mean nothing. Face-offs don’t win fights,” he said.

“All this stuff doesn’t matter. It’s just about the fight. Real talk. All this stuff, weight and face-offs, none of it matters to me. I’m just looking forward to the fight.

“I’m just ready for 12 rounds. 100 per cent. Anything short of that is a bonus.”

British bookmaker William Hill has Usyk as the 4/7 favourite on Saturday night, with 80 per cent of customers backing the Ukrainian to win by knockout or stoppage.

Joshua was down as a 13/8 underdog, with a draw at 16/1.

Usyk is also carrying the hopes of a nation, one scarred by battle and fighting a real war for survival after Russia’s invasion, while another defeat for Joshua would pose big questions about his future.

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