Froch thinks Tony Bellew can KO Oleksandr Usyk
By Scott Gilfoid: Oleksandr Usyk will be defending his IBF, WBA, WBC & WBO cruiserweight titles this Saturday night against huge underdog Tony Bellew in Manchester, England. Usyk vs. Bellew will be taking place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Bellew will have the home country advantage, which means that he has a chance of winning if the fight goes to the scorecards or if he can get Usyk buzzed from a hard shot. You can’t rule out a referee jumping in and hastily stopping the fight like we’ve seen so many times in the past.
The odds-makers see this as a cut and dried win for the unbeaten Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), but Sky Sports analyst Carl Froch believes that Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) has got the punching power to knockout the Ukrainian talent in the later rounds.
Usyk, 31, has already beaten several fighters that are considered much better fighters than Bellew in his wins over Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis and Michael Hunter. Usyk would need to really fall apart for him to lose to Bellew on Saturday, but anything is possible. Bellew, 35, is going to have to come up with the best fight of his career for him to get the ‘W’ on Saturday night against Usyk. Right now, Bellew appears to be heating towards his third career defeat.
“If he can use his boxing brain in the early stages, he can get to Usyk with his power later on,” Froch said to skysports.com. “I’m hopeful that Tony can knock out Usyk, and cause a massive upset that would turn him into a superstar.”
In giving Bellew a chance of beating Usyk by knockout, Froch brings up his come from behind 12th round knockout win over Jermain Taylor in April 2009. Froch was trailing by the scores 106-102 on two of the judges’ scorecards going into the 12th round when he knocked Taylor out in the last 14 seconds of the fight. However, what Froch isn’t saying is Taylor came into the fight with him having lost two out of his last three fights with losses to Kelly Pavlik. Froch didn’t do nearly as well against Taylor as Pavlik did in his two dominating wins over the U.S Olympian. It’s believed by boxing fans that Pavlik softened up Taylor for Froch. If not for Taylor having been softened up by Pavlik, Froch likely would have lost to him. Usyk’s situation is entirely different than Taylor’s going into his Saturday’s fight. Usyk hasn’t lost 2 out of his last 3 fights the way that Taylor had been going into his fight with Froch. Usyk is looking fresh, fast and invincible right now, and that spells bad news for Bellew, who is an old 35 with a lot of mileage on his tank. Bellew hasn’t had a real fight against a non-shot, talented fighter since his loss to Adonis Stevenson in 2013. Bellew’s wins since his loss to Stevenson has come against less than the best.
“Put pressure on him by using your feet, get in his face. You might lose the rounds, but you can try to exhaust him for the second half of the fight,” Froch said in giving his theory about how Bellew can beat Usyk.
Froch’s game plan for Bellew to follow to beat Usyk sounds like a losing plan, and one that could result in Tony getting beaten up well before the sixth round. Usyk isn’t the biggest puncher in the cruiserweight division, but he still has respectable punching power and is more than capable of knocking out his opponents, especially if he has a punching bag standing in front of him just covering up. Hopefully for Bellew’s sake, he isn’t going to follow Froch’s fight strategy to try and tire Usyk out. Bellew doesn’t have the chin to take Usyk’s power shots for eight to ten rounds on Saturday night to try and tire him out.
What’s bad for Bellew is he’s had two consecutive fights against the old, inactive and injury depleted David Haye. Those fights have put ideas in Bellew’s head, making him believe that he can beat talented cruiserweights like Usyk. Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely to happen, but he’s got to least try. If the boxing public is expecting Saturday’s Usyk-Bellew fight to be as competitive as Usyk’s close 12 round majority decision win over Mairis Briedis earlier this year in January in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament, they’re probably going to be sadly disappointed. Briedis is clearly a far superior fighter than Bellew, which is likely why Tony ducked a fight with him when he held the World Boxing Council cruiserweight title back in 2016. Bellew clearly wanted no part of Briedis, and that’s why he decided to fight lower rated #14 WBC BJ Flores and then moving up to heavyweight to face Haye twice. Briedis was rated #1 by the WBC when Bellew was the WBC champion, and he chose not to fight the Latvian fighter. There’s nothing wrong with Bellew ducking the fight with Briedis, as this kind of thing happens all the time in boxing. But you can’t expect for Bellew to do as good a job as an arguably more talented fighter than himself in Briedis did in his fight with Usyk. It’s just not realistic.
Froch wants Bellew to fight every second of every round with the hope that he can somehow tired Usyk out. The talented 2012 U.S Olympian Michael Hunter used volume punching to give Usyk huge problems in their fight in April of 2017. Usyk was not going to be able to beat Hunter by standing in front of him for 12 rounds, so he quickly made an adjustment after the 4th round by getting on his bike ad using movement to defeat him. Bellew is not a volume puncher like Hunter, and he never has been. You can’t expect Bellew to be able to stand in front of Usyk and average over 100 punches thrown per round for 12 rounds in hopes of wearing him down. Hunter was clearly wearing Usyk down, and that’s why he got on his bike and stayed away from him for the last eight rounds.
The one guy that came close to beating Usyk, Mairis Briedis, used forward pressure and huge power shots to win rounds. Briedis didn’t have the engine to keep the pressure on Usyk in the championship rounds, and that led to him losing the fight. Bellew isn’t as rugged as Briedis, and he’s not as smart as him inside the ring. Bellew’s whole game is to hit reverse gear and hope that he can land a left hook. Bellew is good at taking advantage of fighters that fight on the ropes, but that’s not something that we’re going to see Usyk doing on Saturday. He’s not stupid. Usyk is going to stay off the ropes, and force Bellew to try and bet him in the center of the ring. Unlike David Haye, Usyk isn’t injured, old and coming off of a one-year layoff. There’s really no chinks in Usyk’s armor for Bellew to take advantage of in this fight. Anyway you want to look at it, Bellew’s situation is looking bleak to the extreme. Bellew can certainly follow Froch’s confusing game plan of just covering up for eight to ten rounds, but that plan will likely be a miserable failure for him if he makes the mistake of following it.