Bellew says Usyk beats Deontay Wilder, but loses to Joshua
By Scott Gilfoid: After being knocked out in the 8th round by undisputed IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) last Saturday night, Tony Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs) is predicting that he’ll beat WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, but lose to IBF/WBA/WBO champ Anthony Joshua once he moves up in weight. Bellew thinks that Tyson Fury might be too big for Usyk, but not the 6’7″ Wilder, who is just 2 inches shorter than the 6’9″ Tyson.
Bellew, 35, could turn out to be completely wrong about his opinion that Joshua being too big for Usyk. If you saw how exhausted and vulnerable the heavily muscled Joshua looked in his fights against Dillian Whyte and Wladimir Klitschko, it’s easy to see a scenario where he loses to Usyk and a number of other smaller heavyweights. In some respects, Joshua is like a modern day Primo Carnera, a fighter that was known for his huge size and heavy muscles.
At 6’5, Carnera had the physique of a bodybuilder. However, his stamina was less than ideal, and led to him gassing out frequently when facing smaller men like the 6’2″ Joe Louis and 6’2″ Max Baer. It didn’t matter that Carnera was three inches taller and 40 to 50 lbs heavier than Louis and Baer. Their superior stamina was too much for Carnera, and he ended up getting beaten soundly by both. We could see the same thing with Joshua when he meets up with Usyk and Deontay Wilder. If Joshua gasses out after six rounds against those two, like he did against Wladimir Klitschko in 2017, then he’s going to lose. Usyk and Wilder will finish Joshua off, and that’s the reality of it. Joshua looks good when facing guys that his promoter Eddie Hearn has been matching him up against, but the wheels may come off the trolley when he’s stepped up against Usyk and Wilder.
“You have to understand; AJ is a machine,” Bellew said to IFL TV about Anthony Joshua being too big and strong for Usyk. “I think the big man [Anthony Joshua] is too big and strong. I think he’d give him problems for five or six rounds. He’s a big man who keeps coming, and I don’t think he’s going to be able to deter him,” Bellew said.
Joshua might have his hands full in trying to land his big power shots on Usyk. It’s going to take a lot of right hands for Joshua to KO a guy like Usyk, due to his strong chin and his ability to make his opponents miss. If the fight comes down to Joshua only being able to land sporatic right hands against Usyk, then it’s safe to say that he’ll los to the more talented fighter from Ukraine. The difference in the amateur backgrounds of the two fighters is vast. Usyk had a long amateur career in Ukraine, and afterwards he competed in the World Series of Boxing. For Joshua’s part, his amateur career was extremely short. Joshua captured a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics shortly after starting his amateur career. The gold medal was a controversial one, as many boxing fans believe that Joshua should have lost three of his fights in the 2012 Olympics to Ivan Dychko, Erislandy Savon and Roberto Cammarelle. You can argue that Joshua should have lost all four of his matches in the 2012 Olympics, which took place in London, England that year. Joshua’s win over Zhang Zhilei (China) was also questionable. Joshua beat Zhilei by a 15-11 score, but it looked like he should have lost the fight in the view of a lot of boxing fans. Joshua is only now learning how to fight as a pro, and he’s still a very flawed fighter. Joshua has learned some things as a pro, but he lacks the knowledge base for him to adapt quickly to changing situations inside the ring. Usyk could confuse Joshua and have him tied in knots when/if the two of them face each other in the future.
“He is formidable, but I think the giants are a step too far,” Bellew said about Usyk in continuing to ramble on about his unproven theory that Usyk loses to Joshua and Tyson Fury, but beats Wilder. “The giants are too good. Fury’s huge, but he’s not the biggest puncher. But he hits hard enough to hurt you to turn your eyes completely out. He could do that to cruiserweights as he did with Steve Cunningham. Hence, the reason you never seen me fight him. I’m done. I just got caught. He’s [Usyk] a master of what he does. I lost to the greatest cruiserweight that ever lived,” Bellew said.
Bellew should take a look at video of Evander Holyfield’s career when he was fighting at cruiserweight, as he looked to be a much better fighter than Usyk has looked as a champion. Had Holyfield stayed at cruiserweight his entire career, he might still be champion today. Holyfield was an incredible fighter at cruiserweight. There’s no comparison, really. Holyfield was out of this world good. He didn’t struggle against anyone he faced in that weight class. In contrast, Usyk had problems in beating Michael Hunter, Bellew and Mairis Briedis. It often takes a number of rounds before Usyk is firing on all cylinders in his fights at cruiserweight, and that could be a problem for him when he moves up to heavyweight. If Usyk needs to wait until the second half of his fights at heavyweight before he’s properly warmed up, he might not be around at that point in the fight. At heavyweight, fighters need to start a lot faster or else they’ll get blitzed right away. Joshua likes to bum rush his opponents in the 1st round to try and get them out. If Usyk is fiddling around with Joshua, trying to get in his groove, he might get knocked out in the first 20 seconds of the fight. Usyk is going to need to change the way he fights if he’s to be successful at heavyweight. Bellew will likely agree to that.
After having been knocked out last weekend, Bellew is now on board the Usyk ship, telling the boxing world how great he is and saying that he’s the best cruiserweight he’s ever seen. Obviously, Bellew saying that Usyk is the greatest cruiserweight ever is a way of paying a compliment to himself in the process, considering that two of the judges had Bellew ahead of Usyk at the time of the knockout by the scores 68-65 and 67-66. The third judge had it knotted up at 67-67.
“He does have some pop that you have to respect,” Bellew said about Usyk. “Let’s be honest; I’m a cruiserweight. You can’t keep with the giants of the heavyweight division. I think he’d beat Wilder just purely on his boxing feet. But if Wilder hits anyone, they’re going down. He’s one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in boxing. If he catches anyone, they’re going. I just hope he gets beat by Fury,” Bellew said.
So there it is. Bellew thinks Usyk beats the 6’7″ Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), but loses to Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. It’s interesting that Bellew puts Fury over Wilder. I guess we’re going to find out soon what Tyson’s pedigree is when he steps inside the ring with Deontay next month on December 1 in their fight on Showtime PPV at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. If Wilder knocks Fury out cold, will Bellew still stick to his belief that Fury beats Usyk? Styles make fights, as they say, but Fury has looked horrible in his two fights since coming back from a long two and a half year layoff from boxing. Muhammad Ali was out of boxing for over three years, and he came back and was successful with his career. But Ali didn’t blow up to close to 400 lbs the way that Fury did. When a fighter gets as heavy as Fury did in his time out of the ring, it’s hard for them to return to the level that they once were in the sport. As such, Usyk will very likely do a number on Fury and make it look easy when the time comes.
“Is he as great as I thought? Obviously not,” Bellew said about Usyk. “I never wanted to face him, but I had to when he called out my name. I’m done. Certain things happened in camp, and I’m done. I wish I could have stayed another four rounds [against Usyk]. I might have been unified champion of the world. I know I was a better boxer than people thought. I don’t think I’m a better boxer than Oleksander Usyk, but based on those cards, I was for eight rounds. But he found a way [to win],” Bellew said.
It doesn’t matter that Bellew was ahead on two of the scorecards at the time that he was knocked out by Usyk last Saturday. That doesn’t mean that Bellew is in the same class as Usyk talent-wise. It just means that Usyk was taking it easy on Bellew, giving him some rounds so that the boxing fans got their money’s worth on the night. If Usyk had opened up on Bellew straightaway last Saturday night, he probably would have knocked him out and then fans would have been angry about it. Usyk did the smart thing by biding his time until the 8th round before he got out of 1st gear. It looked to many boxing fans that Usyk didn’t star trying until the 8th. It was a different Usyk in the 8th compared to to the first seven rounds. It was the Usyk that fans were familiar with. Once that Usyk emerged, Bellew looked like a rank amateur that had climbed into the ring from the crowd. Bellew didn’t belong inside the same ring with Usyk in the 8th, and he was quickly knocked out.
“He’s an elite champion. I didn’t think he could get to me,” Bellew said about Usyk. “I didn’t think he could hurt me. That was my undoing. I can’t remember the punch [that knocked me out]. He hits quite stiffly. I thought I got stopped on my feet, but I didn’t even get off the floor,” Bellew said.
Usyk is obviously an elite cruiserweight, but Bellew should have known that going into the fight. Usyk’s power is quite good when he’s sitting down on his shots. The reason that Usyk was able to hurt Bellew is because he was hitting him from different angles that he wasn’t expecting. The shot that Bellew was hit with, a hard left hand, landed when Tony thought he was out of range. Bellew had been backing up to try and get away from Usyk, but the Ukrainian talent was able to close the distance and knock him out with a left that he never saw coming.
“It’s over. 20 years of my life. I was financially secure before the fight,” Bellew said. “I didn’t need this fight. He’s exceptional. I want to see him go on and not overstay and not over push it.”