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Tony Bellew challenges Oleksandr Usyk on Nov.10 on Sky Box Office

Aleksandr Usyk Tony Bellew

By Scott Gilfoid: Tony Bellew has been saying he’s the best cruiserweight in the division since 2016, but now he finally has a chance to prove it in facing undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) on November 10 on Sky Box Office PPV.

Bellew is already blabbering about how he’s going to knockout Usyk. I’m not holding my breath waiting for that prediction to come true.

The Usyk vs. Bellew fight was made official on Friday. This is a BIG fight for the UK, but not so much for the rest of the world unfortunately. Outside of the UK, Bellew isn’t talked about much and not viewed as a super talent by hardcore boxing fans. He’s just a guy that beat an old and injured David Haye, and previously won the World Boxing Council cruiserweight title in beating a weak opponent in Illunga Makabu. Bellew arguably fled the cruiserweight division when the WBC was on the verge of ordering him to fight a talented fighter in Mairis Briedis. As such, it’s utterly predictable to guess the outcome of the Usyk vs. Bellew fight on November 10.

It’s going to likely be an embarrassingly one-sided fight in favor of Usyk. It’s too bad the 35-year-old Bellew didn’t have to fight a good cruiserweight to earn the Usyk fight, because he’s honestly never fought a good fighter in the division since moving up from light heavyweight in 2014 after he was obliterated by Adonis Stevenson in six rounds. Oh well, you can’t expect some fighters to earn fights. They have them handed to them, which is what we’re seeing with Bellew. He never fought any of these talents at cruiserweight: Briedis, Yunier Dorticos, Denis Lebedev, Murat Gassiev or Krzystof Glowacki. I hate to say it but Bellew would likely lost to all of those fighters, which is why it’s not as interesting to see him being thrown into the ring with a shark like Usyk on November 10. This is a dreadful mismatch.

“This is the ultimate test for me,” said Bellew to “There is no greater test than Oleksandr Usyk; he is one of the most feared men in boxing. This is nothing new to me; everyone says that I can’t do it again. Everybody is saying that I’ll get beat-up quickly, but we’ll find out won’t we.”

Well, I wouldn’t describe the southpaw Usyk as the most feared man in boxing, as Bellew is describing him. Usyk is more of a pure boxer, who prefers to box his way to victory in the same way that lightweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko does. Usyk is a high volume puncher with excellent defensive skills, and a long reach. Usyk proved himself as the best fighter in the cruiserweight division recently in winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament in beating Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis and Marco Huck. However, Usyk’s win over Briedis was a close one, and he never fought Dorticos, Denis Lebedev or Maxim Vlasov. Usyk is considered the best in the division, but he still hasn’t fought several guys that he would need to for him to 100 percent be viewed as the best. Usyk is not going to stick around to prove himself at cruiserweight, as he plans on moving up to heavyweight after he beats Bellew in November.

Other than Usyk fighting Bellew, there’s no money in the cruiserweight division for him to stick around for the remainder of his career. Usyk, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, is already 31-years-old, and he doesn’t have the youth to hang around the cruiserweight division fighting for peanuts against guys that the casual boxing fans have never heard of around the world. Usyk wants to fight for big money against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That’s why Usyk recently inked a co-promotional contract with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. Hearn is planning on slowly building the Joshua-Usyk fight before selling it to the UK boxing fans on Sky Box Office.

Hearn will likely peddle the Joshua vs. Usyk fight to the U.S boxing fans on DAZN on pay-per-view as well, although it’s highly unlikely that the American fans will be interested in paying to see this on PPV. Joshua and Usyk are both unknowns with the casual boxing fans in the States, and that will likely remain like that given that Usyk and Joshua WON’T be fighting in the U.S. Joshua hasn’t increased his popularity with U.S fans because he’s not facing WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. The fight the Americand did see involving Joshua against 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko last year didn’t make the British fighter look good. The was dropped hard by the shot Wladimir in round 6, and almost knocked out in the subsequent rounds. Joshua just looked like an over-muscled bodybuilder with terrible stamina.

“Make no mistake, I know this is the most dangerous fight of my life, but I’m also going into this with my eyes wide open, I’m not in awe of Oleksandr Usyk,” Bellew said in trying hard to build Usyk up as a knockout puncher, which he clearly isn’t. ”I won’t stand and admire him and allow him to rattle off five-punch combinations on my head.”

It’s almost as if Bellew is describing another fighter when he drones about Usyk being a dangerous fighter. Usyk is NOT a dangerous puncher. He’s a PURE boxer, period. When Usyk does score knockouts, it’s because he’s overwhelmed his opponents with a ton of pitty-pat punches over the course of his fights. There are some dangerous punchers in the cruiserweight division like Dorticos and Gassiev, but Usyk is far below those guys in the power department. What Bellew has to worry about in a fight against Usyk is being embarrassed by his boxing skills, youth, talent, defense and movement. Usyk is a much better fighter than Bellew, and that much will be shown once this mismatch takes place on November 10.

Usyk is coming off of an impressive 12 round unanimous decision win over IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev last July in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. The fight was disappointing, however, as it was boring to watch for a lot of fans, because Gassiev wasn’t letting his hands go. The best fight for Usyk in the tournament was his semifinal match against Mairis Briedis last January. Usyk barely won that fight by a 12 round majority decision. Briedis is the guy that Bellew chose not to fight when he held the WBC title. Bellew was supposed to fight Briedis, as he was the #1 contender for his WBC belt, but Hearn was smart in having him swerve that fight to face 39-year-old BJ Flores in Tony’s only defense of his WBC cruiserweight title in October 2016. BJ Flores was ranked #14 by the WBC at the time Bellew fought him. The rationale for Bellew fighting Flores rather than the arguably more talented and dangerous Briedis at the time was something about Flores being a friend of David Haye. The excuse for Bellew fighting Flores didn’t make much sense, but it was clear that Hearn was really reaching to come up with a good explanation for why he was pooling from the bottom of the WBC’s top 15 ranking in selecting Flores instead of #1 WBC contender Briedis.

”On November 10, I’m going to do something that nobody has ever done before, I’m going to knock out an undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world,” Bellew said.

It’s almost embarrassing to hear Bellew try and sell his fight with Usyk, because it’s just too unimaginable to picture him knocking out the Ukrainian talent. This fight has mismatch written all over it, as it would if Bellew fought some of the talented cruiserweights like Dorticos, Gassiev, Glowacki or Lebedev

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