Alexander Krassyuk isn’t convinced that Oleksandr Usyk beefed up unnecessarily for his rematch against Anthony Joshua.
Widely circulated video clips in recent weeks appeared to show that Ukraine’s Usyk, the former undisputed champion at cruiserweight and current unified heavyweight champion, had gained considerably more muscle mass since his victory over Joshua in their heavyweight title bout last September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. For some, the improved physique is a sign that Usyk plans on being on the front foot in the rematch; for others, it is a more worrisome indication that Usyk’s best attributes––namely, his speed, nimbleness, and footwork––may be at risk of being diminished.
Usyk will defend his WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF heavyweight titles in his rematch against Joshua this Saturday at the Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Krassyuk, the Ukrainian promoter of Usyk, said in a recent interview that he does not believe that his client ventured too far from his usual weight range, at least as it pertains to his tenure in the heavyweight ranks. Usyk hit the scales at 221 1/4 pounds, a career high, in the first fight with Joshua; he was 217 pounds in the fight before that, with Derek Chisora; and before that, for his fight with Chazz Witherspoon, Usyk weighed in at 215 pounds.
Krassyuk said the Friday weigh-in would put an end to all the speculation, but he did note that he believes Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) is at his best when he sticks to a weight somewhere in the 220s.
“He’s not out of the range of his normal weight, so I don’t think his weight is going to be anything different from the first fight,” Krassyuk told ID Boxing. “That makes him –– that’s his best condition. His speed and his power is on the best level when he stays at his weight, something around 220 pounds.”
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs), by comparison, weighed in at 240 pounds in the first fight.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, suggested recently that he believes Usyk’s apparent muscle gain is a hint that the fleet-footed southpaw intends to pursue Joshua more aggressively inside the ring.