Andre Ward picks Tony Bellew to beat Oleksandr Usyk
By Tim Royner: Former two division world champion Andre ‘SOG’ Ward is picking Tony Bellew to defeat unified cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk this Saturday night in thier big fight on Sky Box office in Manchester, UK.
Ward, 34, says he’s seen more of Bellew than he has the 31-year-old Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), and he believes that Tony is the more proven of the two. Ward remarks that he’s seen Bellew take losses and rebound from them to go on and win, so he feels he’s the more proven fighter of the two. Moreover, Ward thinks that he would beat Usyk if he made a comeback today after being out of the ring for a year and a half since his 8th round knockout win over Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev last year in June 2017,
“Of course, I feel like I win,” Ward said to Fighthub when asked his thoughts on whether he could deal with Usyk and Anthony Joshua. “No matter how you slice it in my head, I win. That’s how it always is. As a competitor, all the amount of mental processing, your hand gets raised,” Ward said.
Ward is obviously kidding himself if he believes he can beat Usyk and Anthony Joshua. Ward had his hands full in his two fights against former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in 2016 and 2017. A lot of boxing fans had War losing the first fight with Kovalev in November 2016, and they think he got away with fouling his way to victory in the rematch. Ward hit Kovalev with a series of punches that looked to be low. At this point, Ward would likely be out-boxed by Usyk, and stopped by Joshua. Given the time out of the ring, Ward might even be knocked out by Usyk. He’s a big guy with more than enough power to stop an inactive, smaller and older fighter like Ward. He should stay retired. He’s already been out of the ring for too long as it is, and he hasn’t faced a younger fighter with size for a long time. Ward left the light heavyweight division just when Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol emerges as top guys. Ward never showed interest in facing WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, who many boxing fans felt would have beaten him. Ward wouldn’t have been able to wrestle and mug his way to a win over Stevenson like he did with Kovalev.
”I’ve got to go with Bellew,” Ward said in picking Bellew to beat Usyk. ”I know everybody is writing Bellew off, but how many times have they done that? I’m going to go with the intangibles on this one,” Ward said.
Ward doesn’t appear to have been following Bellew long enough to know that he hasn’t been written off that many times during his career. The reason for that is Bellew hasn’t faced many talented fighters. Bellew has been written off in his fights against flawed guys in the past in matches against Illunga Makabu, Nathan Cleverly, David Haye, and Adonis Stevenson. That’s only four fighters in which Bellew has been written off. It’s not as if he’s been overlooked by boxing fans in countless fights. The problem that Bellew has is his sample size is so small in terms of the top guys he’s fought. Bellew has been a pro for 11 years, but he’s not fought a lot of high caliber fighters. Cleverly was considered a paper champion, Makabu had never beaten anyone good during his career, and Haye was old and broken down. Stevenson destroyed Bellew by a 6th round knockout in 2013, so he didn’t prove anyone wrong in that one. Bellew was destroyed by Stevenson.
We don’t know how good he is,” Ward said about Usyk. “He seems to be a good fighter, but you have a small sample size,” Ward said about Usyk. ”It’s tough to know how good a guy is. I need to see more. I’ve seen a lot of Tony Bellew. I’ve seen him come out on top. I’ve seen him take his Ls and get back up and keep pushing. He’s a veteran, so I know what I’m dealing with here. Usyk, I’ve got to see more,” Ward said.
Ward is really going out on a limb here in picking the underdog Bellew to win, as it’s not expected to be competitive. Hopefully, Ward doesn’t disappear after the Usyk-Bellew fight on Saturday night. It would be nice for Ward to give Usyk his props for beating Bellew after the fight instead of disappearing and/or distancing himself from his prediction.
Bellew is a talented fighter, but he’s not shown the type of ability during his career that would suggest that he beats Usyk on Saturday night. Bellew is a good top five contender level fighter at cruiserweight, and maybe not even that. There are a lot of guys that would give Bellew tons of problems at cruiserweight. You don’t need to go to the top five to find fighters that might beat Bellew. He might come unraveled in facing fighters like Beibut Shumenov, Denis Lebedev, Maxim Vlasov, Andrew Tabiti and Yury Kashinsky. Those guys aren’t even considered the top five in the cruserweight division in the minds of a lot of boxing fans.
Bellew did well beating Makabu, a fighter that wasn’t that good, but he failed against Stevenson. Bellew didn’t stay around long enough at 175 to fight Beterbiev, Bivol and Badou Jack. Since moving up to cruiserweight, Bellew hasn’t fought the lions like Murat Gassiev, Usyk, Yunier Dorticos, Krzystof Glowacki and Mairis Briedis.
With the way that Ward is picking against Usyk, you have to wonder if he doesn’t like the huge positive praise that the Ukrainian fighter is suddenly getting from the boxing world. Usyk is becoming a star in a real hurry in the United States, and becoming a popular guy like Gennady Golovkin. It’s going to obviously take more than a win over Bellew to become a big name in the U.S, but Usyk has a lot of time. He’s about to move up to heavyweight after the Bellew fight on Saturday night. If Usyk destroys Bellew, and then moves up to heavyweight to unify the division by beating Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder, he’s going to become a big star.