Before their world title rematch in Saudi Arabia, British boxer Anthony Joshua weighed in more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) heavier than the current champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Both Joshua and Usyk were similar in weight to their bout in London last year, weighing 110.9 kilograms (244.5 pounds) for Joshua and 100.5 kilograms (221.6 pounds) for Usyk.
Usyk, who is 19-0 and the bookies’ favorite following his unanimous victory on Joshua’s home ground, defied expectations that he would put on extra weight to match the gigantic Joshua.
The 90-second face-off between the competitors was followed by a handshake and a photo op.
“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 per cent. Anything shorter than that, it’s a bonus.”
After a cautious performance against the speedy and skilled Usyk at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September, many critics wrote Joshua off.
The 6ft 6in (1.98m) Watford athlete, who aspires to win three consecutive world championships, has pledged to be more “competitive.”
Eddie Hearn, a promoter, has predicted that Joshua will attempt the knockout.
Joshua, a former Olympic gold medalist with a record of 24-2, will compete for the world title for the 12th time in a row on Saturday. His only previous professional loss came by way of a shocking TKO to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019.
Six months later, in the “Clash of the Dunes,” the first heavyweight title match in the traditional nation of Saudi Arabia, Joshua exacted revenge for that defeat.
The first women’s professional boxing contest in Saudi Arabia will take place on Saturday’s undercard between Ramla Ali, a Briton of Somali descent, and Crystal Garcia Nova, a boxer from the Dominican Republic.
Saudi Arabia has made significant investments in a number of sports, notably Formula One, the Premier League football team Newcastle United, and the contentious LIV Golf Tour, which competes against the established circuits.
The investments are a part of a multifaceted plan by Saudi Arabia’s 36-year-old de facto ruler and crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to diversify the country’s oil-dependent economy.
Activist groups have called the actions “sportswashing,” alleging that Saudi Arabia is trying to divert attention away from its record on human rights.