The Big Question: Usyk vs Bellew - does it happen and who wins?
Since Oleksandr Usyk beat Murat Gassiev to unify the cruiserweight titles, all the talk has been of a potential match-up between the Ukrainian and Tony Bellew. Lee Gormley, James Oddy, Colin Harris, Shaun Brown, John Angus MacDonald and Anthony Cocks discuss the possibility of Usyk vs Bellew, as well as who they think would win...
If it happens it's likely heading for the UK, so that immediately gives Bellew a slight advantage. But that's the only one he would have in the fight in my opinion. I could see it being very similar to the Usyk vs Gassiev meeting, in the way the Ukrainian would take command early on and eventually earn a wide decision win. Of course, the scores might be closer if it occurs on British soil, but Usyk should win comfortably and pick up another big, well deserved payday. One factor that could be interesting though, is how the Ukrainian would deal with the probable trash talk and attempts of intimidation on Bellew's part during the build-up! - Lee Gormley
I’ve written Bellew off before- most notably against Ilunga Makabu - so I suppose I should have learned my lesson. But Usyk is a supreme fighter. Beautiful footwork, an excellent motor, power, unique angles and clever shot selection, all from a southpaw stance, make the Ukrainian a nightmare for anyone.
Bellew is a more intelligent boxer than he is often given credit for, and is much more comfortable at either cruiserweight or heavyweight thsan he was at light heavy. I think he could live with Usyk and maybe cause him problems, and certainly provide more solutions than Gassiev did.
I’d still pick Usyk to pick up a points win however. Although the Ukrainian isn’t quite at the level of his countryman Lomachencko (who is?), I think he has shown himself to be a top five pound-for-pound fighter. - James Oddy
Yes, I actually think it will happen as it goes.
Bellew needs a big challenge if he's going to fight again - and a return to cruiserweight for all four world title belts would certainly motivate him. Usyk needs someone substantial to keep him at 200lbs, and Bellew will be the biggest challenge for him, because in effect the WBSS totally cleaned out the division of fresh challengers for the immediate aftermath. The only problem is that the money is not going to be as huge as if Bellew (or Usyk, for that matter) fought a top heavyweight, but I still think they need each other and it can be a huge fight for the cruiserweight division.
If it happens, selling out Goodison Park in November (my prediction), I think Usyk starts as favourite and nudges Bellew into retirement with a close, hard-fought points decision. (Trouble is, Bellew has made a career out of proving people wrong! The only time I was sure he'd win, and bet on him doing so, was the Haye rematch).
I’m fairly certain it will happen. It makes sense on both sides. Bellew’s swansong but with everything on the line and for Usyk it gives him exposure to our PPV audience for further fights down the line at heavyweight. - Colin Harris
I vowed never to back against Tony Bellew after his first fight with David Haye. Thought the challenge was too much and too dangerous.
As for Bellew vs Usyk I’m going to be in the minority here in going for the former. Nothing about Bellew, the British crowd or what type of fight it is will concern Usyk. Pundits should remember that. Nothing. But what Murat Gassiev has done is show how not to fight Usyk. He gave him the win nearly gift wrapped. Bellew and Dave Coldwell will have noted that.
Bellew needs to make it a high-pressure fight, eat the jab and walk through whatever hell Usyk brings. (I’m not selling this well!)
All the ability in the world can be equalised with heart, will, desire and a crazy streak. Bellew has it all and power. I’m backing Bellew to rough him up, land his own big shots and, from the soles of his boots, drag himself up to another level to defeat Usyk. Does that make sense? Probably not. But there’s something about Bellew, he’s something of a one-off in my book.
Listen, if Bellew makes this a boxing match then Usyk wins. He’s going to be in Usyk’s face all night, put all his weight on him and make things horrible. No man, no fighter is invincible and Bellew will walk in with a belief that very few of us will ever experience. It’ll be dogs of war, a war of attrition and it’ll be one for the history books.
Neck on the block. Hello to all those screen-shotting this and laughing. - Shaun Brown
I can’t see it. After two pay-per-view paydays against David Haye, I can’t imagine Bellew settling for a much smaller purse against Usyk. I know I’m in danger of sounding like Eddie Hearn (I won’t start with ‘Listen Koogs’), but for all of the Ukrainian’s brilliance, he isn’t well-known in this country. That combined with his limited English would make it a hard sell on PPV.
Personally, I could see Bellew vs Chisora being made on PPV. ‘Del Boy’ is coming off a career-best win and can you imagine the press conferences? It would sell well. Back it up with a 'stacked undercard' of: Fowler-Fitzgerald, Callum Smith in a first defence of his world title or his comeback fight (dependent on the outcome of the WBSS final) etc and it seems the more likely option. - John Angus MacDonald
What interests me about this potential fight is the weight it will take place at. I suspect it will be a heavyweight contest and why not? Bellew isn't keen to boil back down to 200lb and Usyk is keen to move up to heavyweight. What better opponent to acclimate to the higher weight class? Usyk UD at either weight. - Anthony Cocks