By Liam Campbell
Tony Bellew faces the greatest challenge of his career so far as he takes on Oleksandr Usyk for the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO & Ring Magazine cruiserweight titles on November 10th 2018 at the Manchester Arena. Bellew, originally from Liverpool, is on home turf for this bout but it will take more than an away crowd to phase the dominant force that is Usyk as he looks to venture further into his professional career.
Bellew insists that although Usyk is an amazing amateur boxer, he will be “shown the way by a very well-schooled professional fighter” as he looks to execute another upset victory, following two unexpected victories over David Haye, after experts and betting companies have yet again not given him a chance in this fight against Usyk.
Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew fighting out of Liverpool, United Kingdom, goes into the fight with a record of 30 wins with 20 knockouts, 2 losses, and one draw showing how solid he is as a professional fighter. Usyk, on the other hand, enters into the fight with a record of 15 wins with 11 coming by way of knockout showing that he is a heavy hitting amateur looking for a big win against a toned professional fighter under his belt. The Ukrainian cruiserweight has experienced almost half the rounds Bellew has, with only 117 where Bellew has had the experience of 216 rounds. Usyk has shown his ability in later rounds most notably against Murat Gassiev where his domination earned him a unanimous points decision and the Muhammad Ali Trophy with it.
Bellew himself admits that winning the belts from Usyk will be the “biggest challenge” of his career and that “there’s no chance of out-boxing him so I have to knock him out” but his confidence is still immense as he states, “I will knock him out! Believe you me, I will knock Oleksandr Usyk out in the mid-to-late rounds”.
Although in the build-up to this fight’s announcement there was the talk of it being held at heavyweight, it has been announced at cruiserweight and it is hard to determine who benefits the most from this. Bellew has been cruiserweight world champion but has fought his last two fight’s up in the heavyweight division against David Haye and whilst carrying the extra weight, was able to throw with a lot more power into his punches than at cruiser, however, this step back down may give him extra speed and accuracy advantage over Usyk. Usyk, on the other hand, has fought all of his professional fights in the cruiserweight division and the recent experience that he has in the division that Bellew does not may help him tactically and mentally in the fight.
Tony Bellew, who we know will be retiring from professional boxing after this fight, will be looking to go out with a bang as he vows to prove everyone wrong again. The Liverpudlian knows that this fight must be his last as he will “not be the same man” due to the damage he would sustain in beating the dangerous fighter that is Usyk. The Ukrainian has remained quiet so far in the build-up, however, his intentions after the fight are to move up to heavyweight and face Anthony Joshua but Bellew has made it clear that he is more than a stepping stone for Usyk to use to gain more recognition in the boxing world.
No matter what else happens in the build-up to this fight it will undoubtedly be an incredible cruiserweight showdown between a very good amateur and a very schooled professional fighter and I highly doubt it will go the distance.