Oleksandr Usyk delivers poignant message as he weighs in for Anthony Joshua rematch

The story of the Oleksandr Usyk – Anthony Joshua II weigh in

OLEKSANDR USYK weighed in at 221 1/2lbs for his rematch with Anthony Joshua, quarter-of-a-pound heavier than when he outpointed the Englishman 11 months ago. Joshua, the underdog, hit the scales in Jeddah at 244 1/2lbs which represents a rise of four-and-a-half pounds from fight one.

Fight Week often sends the media and fans into a spin. Plenty believed Usyk would be heavier this time after observing the Ukrainian in his clothes. As it turned out, with most of them off, he was more or less the same as last time. Turns out he knows what he’s doing, after all.

“You see, your expectations are not met every time,” Usyk said afterwards. He oozed confidence, as is his custom.

CONFIDENT: Usyk is typically unfazed at the weigh-in (GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Joshua, a little bristly during the whole process, was at his heaviest since he lost to Andy Ruiz Jnr in New York, back in June 2019. As always, though, he looks in pristine shape. He is still some way below his heaviest weight to date, which was 254lbs when he halted Carlos Takam in 2017.

An intense stare-down – timed at one minute and 48 seconds – followed the ceremony of standing on the scales. It was the longest they’d spent in each other’s faces since they shared a ring last year. Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, attempted to get the pair to look forward on two occasions but was completely ignored. In the end, it was Joshua who averted his gaze first.

“All of this stuff don’t matter, it’s about the bell ringing and us throwing leather” Joshua said. “Faceoffs don’t win fights. Weigh-ins, faceoffs, they’re nothing. It’s all about the fight.”

Usyk won the first meeting with a deserved unanimous decision after 12 rounds. Not many picked him to win that one but, such was his superiority, it’s now even harder to find anyone picking against him in the rematch.

“I’m ready for 12 rounds,” Joshua said. “Anything shorter than that will be a bonus.”

REVENGE-MINDED: Joshua is in excellent shape, as per (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

So there you have it. Two fighters stand on scales, one is heavier than the other, and then they go eyeball-to-eyeball before one decides enough is enough and looks away. The most poignant moment of the entire event occurred right at the end. It provided a reminder of what’s really at stake for Oleksandr Usyk, whose country remains at war with Russia.

“Thank you very much,” he said when asked to give a message to his fans. “Lord help us.”

As Usyk and Joshua exited the stage, the real fight was a long way from being won.