Bellew: One wrong step by Usyk and it’s over
By Scott Gilfoid: Undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and Tony Bellew met on Monday for their press conference to discuss their huge fight November 10 on DAZN and Sky Box Office at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Bellew, who is he World Boxing Council Emeritus Champion, is looking to pull off a major upset against the unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs).
In a surprise move, Usyk called Bellew out after beating IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev in the World Boxing Super Series final last July. Out of all the fighters in the cruiserweight division that Usyk could call out, Bellew was the least one would expect. Bellew hasn’t fought at cruiserweight for two years since 2016, and he never cut his teeth in facing any of the talented guys in the weight class in the three years he was fighting in the division from 2014 to 2016.
Bellew had talked about himself as being the best in the cruiserweight division, but he had never shown the ambition to fight the best while he was campaigning in the weight class. That one of the criticisms that boxing fans had about Bellew. He talked himself up as being the best in the cruiserweight division, but then he chose not to fight the best in Mairis Briedis, Yunier Dorticos, Usyk, Murat Gassiev or Krzystof Glowacki. If Bellew had fought even one of them and proved that he could beat that class of a fighter, then it would make his fight with Usyk seem like a more legitimate fight rather than a guy that is good at self-promoting, but who has very substance in terms of wins on his resume. As of now, Bellew’s best wins of his career were against a shot David Haye and a badly flawed Illunga Makabu.
There’s not much to speak of on Bellew’s resume that suggests that he even deserves a fight against Usyk. Beating Usyk is basically out of the question for Bellew unless he lands a lucky punch. Usyk v. Bellew is a novelty fight along the same lines as Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor in my view. McGregor was a guy with no chance of beating Mayweather, but who was excellent at getting the boxing and MMA public excited about the fight due to his trash talking and charisma. McGregor never stood a ghost of a chance of beating Mayweather, and yet the fight still pulled in 4.4 million pay-per-view buys. Yes, the fans are angry and disappointed afterwards about having shelled out $100 per household to see the Mayweather-McGregor farce, but they only had themselves to blame by not studying what was being sold to them. Had they dug deeper, they would have realized that McGregor had no boxing experience and thus had no chance of beating a master boxer like Mayweather.
I hate to say it, but Usyk vs. Bellew is a similar fight, but much worse in my view. The reason for that is Usyk won’t coast against Bellew to carry him the way that Mayweather carried McGregor for 10 rounds. Usyk is going to be looking to box Bellew’s head off on November 10 and stop him. Usyk won’t be taking it easy on Bellew. As such, it’s going to likely be a terrible mismatch between a guy that doesn’t belong inside the same ring with Usyk. It would have been nice if Bellew at least had to prove himself to get the fight with Usyk by going through Dorticos, Briedis or Gassiev first to earn the fight instead of having it given to him. At least if Bellew earned the fight with Usyk, the boxing public would know whether the fight is worth purchasing on PPV or not. I’m just saying. It’s always nice when a fighter proves that he belongs inside the ring with another fighter by showing that he can beat guys high on the food chain. In this case, Bellew should have had to fight Dorticos, Briedis, Gassiev, Glowacki or Lebedev to earn the fight with Usyk. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen because the results of those fights would likely have seen Bellew knocked out.
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Bellew, 35, recognizes that he has basically a puncher’s chance of winning the fight. Bellew isn’t going to outbox a fighter of Usyk’s class in a million years and he seems to know it, which is why he’s talking knockout all the way. If Bellew doesn’t get a knockout, he’s likely going to get his head boxed off and wind up embarrassed in front of his own boxing fans in Manchester on the 10th of November. The money that Bellew will get for the fight will make it well worth it for him. Bellew will cry all the way to the bank. It’s going to be another good payday for Bellew. He plans on retiring after the Usyk fight, so this is essentially a golden parachute type of fight for him. Does Bellew have a chance of winning? Yeah, but a very, very slim chance, and even that is stretching it. It’s fair to say that Bellew would lose to Usyk’s last two opponents Murat Gassiev and Mairis Briedis. As such, this fight is a step down for Usyk from the guys he’s been fighting.
“Let’s not forget, I have the one thing that he does not have and that is a punch that can switch lights off within the blink of an eye, Bellew said to skysports.com. “Just one wrong step, one wrong maneuver and it is over.”
Bellew is coming off of consecutive knockout wins over former two division world champion David Haye. The 6’3” Bellew has got that going for him, but unfortunately those wins are meaningless when it comes to fighting the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk. Haye was injured, old and badly over-the-hill in his two fights with Bellew. Haye looked like the shell of his former self in his two fights against Bellew, and it’s not surprising that he had nothing left. The 38-year-old Haye had fought only three times in the last six years before facing Bellew in 2017. Just imagine being that inactive and going into a fight against any world class fighter. Haye was never going to win given his age, injuries and inactivity. If Bellew dealt with the same inactivity, he would have likely lost in a similar manner if he tried stepping it up against a world class opponent after having only 3 fights in 6 years.
While Bellew is confident that he’ll be able to upset the odds and defeat the 2012 Ukrainian gold medalist, it’s not likely that he’ll be able to do so. This is the last fight of Bellew’s career, and it’s seen as him looking for one last payday before retirement. Bellew picked out the best fighter in the cruiserweight division to fight in Usyk. Bellew might have been able to get the likes of Andre Ward to fight him if he or his promoter Eddie Hearn were able to lure the 34-year-old out of retirement. However, given Ward’s inactivity and status of being retired, it’s unlikely the boxing fans would have been excited at seeing Bellew fight him. Bellew called out Tyson Fury for a fight, but he showed no interest in fighting him. It would have been a no win situation for Fury in facing Bellew, because he wouldn’t have gained anything in beating a fighter so much smaller than him. Bellew weighed in at just 210 pounds for his last fight at heavyweight against Haye. That would be far too small for him to beat a super heavyweight like Fury. Bellew would be toyed with by Fury, and he would get no credit for beating him.
“And make no mistake; he is looking past me already. He might say he is not but he is already asking Eddie ‘who am I going to fight at heavyweight?’ I know he is.”
Of course, Usyk is looking past Bellew towards the bigger money fight at heavyweight against Anthony Joshua. Why wouldn’t he? I mean, that’s where the real money is for the 31-year-old Usyk, and he has a short window to get to that fight before ages kicks in. Since Usyk is a guy that gets by with his speed, fast movement, reflexes, and boxing ability, he needs to fight Joshua as soon as possible for him to have a good chance of winning. Usyk can’t wait until he’s 39-years-old to fight him so that he could wind up like Alexander Povetkin did in getting stopped in the 7th round last weekend. Usyk needs to beat Bellew with ease and move up to heavyweight so that he can get the big money fight against Joshua. Wasting time with old fighters with fluff resumes like Bellew is a waste of a career. Usyk needs to move on after this mismatch and go after the big money. The Bellew fight is little more than a circus level fight. It’s not going to be competitive for a moment. Bellew is a guy that has failed each time he’s fought prime level fighters during his career.