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Bellew says he’ll knockout Usyk and then retire

Tony Bellew

By Scott Gilfoid: Tony Bellew says he’ll knockout undisputed cruiserweight champion Aleksandr Usyk, and then retire afterwards due to how punishing the fight will be for him. Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) says he won’t want to continue his after he knocks out the 31-year-old Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs).

Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn is already making phone calls to work on putting the fight together with Usyk, who states that he’s willing to come over to the UK to face him.

Usyk called the 34-year-old Bellew out after defeating IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (26-1, 19 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament last Saturday night on July 21 in Moscow, Russia. Bellew says Usyk called him out because he knew that he was the best cruiserweight in the division when he fought in that weight class from 2014 to 2016.

Unfortunately, Bellew never proved that he was the best fighter in the cruiserweight division because he bailed from the division after defending his WBC cruiserweight title against fringe contender BJ Flores in October 2016. The World Boxing Council was going to force Bellew to face Mairis Briedis, but he didn’t seem to be interested in taking on the tough Latvian fighter. Instead of facing Briedis, who would have been a tremendous leap up in competition for Bellew, he moved up to heavyweight and twice defeated the injured, past his best David Haye.

”I’ll chin him! No two ways about it,” Bellew said to Talksport about Usyk. “What I can do is I can draw him into mistakes. I don’t care what anybody says, I’m a far bigger puncher than Murat Gassiev. I only need one. I’ve showed that over the last few years.”

Bellew’s two victories over David Haye seem to have brainwashed him into thinking that he can knockout fighters that aren’t totally shot. Usyk has a great chin, and he proved that in taking some monstrous shots from Murat Gassiev last weekend. One punch in particular from Gassiev in the third round shook Usyk up, but he was able to recover from it in the last moments of the round to keep from going down. Bellew might end up getting hurt himself if he tries to “chin” Usyk like he’s been talking about.

I don’t think Bellew believes he’s a better puncher than Murat Gassiev, but if he does think that, he’s dead wrong. Gassiev is clearly a better puncher than Bellew. If the two were to face each other, it would likely end badly for Bellew, because he’s never faced anyone with that kind of power. Gassiev has the kind of power that he can even heavyweights, and I’m talking about fighters in their prime, not shot and injured guys like David Haye.

“When I left the cruiserweight division two years ago I said I was the best in the world, and he obviously believed what I said,” Bellew said about Usyk. He’s defeated all the other cruiserweights and the first name he’s called is mine.”

Bellew seems to believe what he’s saying in his analysis of why the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk called him out following his victory over Gassiev last Saturday night in the World Boxing Super Series final in Moscow. The reason why Usyk called Bellew out ISN’T because he felt that he was the best fighter in the cruiserweight division when he fled from the division in 2016. The obvious reason why Usyk wants to fight Bellew is because there’s good money he can make from fighting him due to Tony being a pay-per-view fighter in the UK.

Thanks to Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn’s deal with Sky Sports, his fights are shown on Sky Box Office, and that brings in a lot of money for him and his opponents. Usyk won’t make the same kind of money if he were to fight the arguably more talented cruiserweights like Mairis Briedis, Yunier Dorticos, Denis Lebedev, Krzystof Glowacki or Murat Gassiev. Usyk would have an arguably tougher time beating those guys than Bellew, but the money isn’t there for those fights.

If Bellew wasn’t a pay-per-view fighter on Sky Box Office, Usyk likely wouldn’t give him the time of day. Usyk would simply move up to heavyweight and start climbing his way to a world title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua. Usyk is clearly going to be targeting Joshua for a world title shot because there’s huge money in fighting him. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder brings far less money for Usyk but plenty of risk.

”If it’s solely down to me, it’s happening,” Bellew said about the Usyk fight. ”If it’s Usyk, it’ll be my last fight. I say that because I know how damaging the fight will be. I’m going to take a lot of stick in that fight. I’m going to come through it and I’m going to get it at some point, and I’ll be losing when I knock him out.”

From the way Bellew is describing his fight against Usyk, it’s going to be a cash out fight for him. I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go for Bellew, because he can still make a ton of money fighting Tyson Fury in 2019 or 2020. Fury will likely still fight Bellew no matter how badly he loses to Usyk. There’s no question that Bellew will come up as the loser in the Usyk fight. The real question is how badly Bellew loses. Does he get beaten by a points decision or does Usyk knock him out. It’s likely that given Bellew’s inactivity and lack of tough fights against quality opposition since his loss to Adonis Stevenson in 2013, he’ll probably get knocked out by Usyk. Bellew’s fights since his loss to Stevenson have been against these fighters:

– David Haye – Injured and BADLY past his prime. Haye was a completely shot fighter when Bellew fought him twice

– BJ Flores – bottom dweller

– Illunga Makabu – Unproven fighter with an inflated ranking by the WBC

– Mateuz Masternak – fringe contender

– Arturs Kulikauskis – a journeyman with an 18-37-7. His record speaks for itself

– Ivica Bacurin – journeyman with a record of 30-14-1

– Nathan Cleverly – former world champion that was knocked out easily by Sergey Kovalev and Badou Jack

– Julio Cesar Dos Santos – journeyman

– Valery Brudov – journeyman with a record of 44-14

The above list of opponents for Bellew shows pretty clearly that he hasn’t been fighting quality. Those are good B, C and D level fighters, but there’s not an A-level guy among them. In looking at the opposition that Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been feeding him in the last five years, it’s abundanetly clear that he’s been carefully managed in making the fights that he could win but not the ones that he had a high chance of losing. That’s alright. Promoters are supposed to protect their fighters, but in this case I believe Bellew’s career has been stunted. The guys that Bellew should have been fighting while at light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight are these fighters:

– Andre Ward

– Juerge Braehmer

– Artur Beterbiev

– Dmitry Bivol

– Sergey Kovalev

– Mairis Briedis

– Murat Gassiev

– Denis Lebedev

– Yunier Dorticos

Bellew has little choice but to take the Usyk fight if it’s there for him, because Andre Ward probably won’t come out of retirement to fight him. A fight against Adonis Stevenson won’t be a big money maker in the UK, and Tyson Fury won’t be available for another year or two. Bellew can’t afford to sit on the couch for two years waiting for Fury to come around because his brand will suffer. Once a fighter stops competing, he’s quickly forgotten by the boxing public. That’s the reality that Bellew faces. As such, he either fights Usyk or he retires, At least in fighting Usyk, Bellew can get a golden parachute to help feather his next during his golden years in retirement. So what if Bellew has next to no chance of beating Usyk. At least he’ll get a good payday as he goes out the door into retirement.

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