Preview: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tony Bellew
One of the very best in the world is in action Saturday in a big fight as Oleksandr Usyk meets Tony Bellew.
This Saturday is the biggest marquee fight in the Cruiserweight division in some years when Oleksandr Usyk (15-0; 11 KOs) takes on Tony Bellew (31-2-1; 21 KOs) Usyk is the unified champion at 200 lbs. and this fight is for all the gold. Ring Magazine has Usyk ranked at #5 in the pound for pound list, with Bellew unranked. The fight takes place this Saturday, November 10 live in Manchester and airs live on DAZN with a fight time of 1:00 p.m. ET.
How do these two stack up?
Usyk: 31 years old | 6’3” | 78” reach | southpaw stance
Bellew: 35 years old | 6’4” | 74” reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Usyk: W - Murat Gassiev (UD) | W - Mairis Briedis (MD) | W - Marco Huck (TKO)
Bellew: W - David Haye (TKO) | W - David Haye (TKO) | W - BJ Flores (KO)
How did these two get here?
Oleksandr Usyk won the first WBSS Cruiserweight tournament in what was a ridiculously stacked field. Along the way, he beat two top 5 fighters and unified every major title in the division, which is a very rare accomplishment. He’s an Olympic Gold medalist, and his 15 pro wins include victories over 3 of the Cruiserweight top 5. In short, he’s a phenom who deserves to be mentioned alongside his teammate Vasyl Lomachenko when talking about the sport’s elite. If anything, I would argue his spot at #5 on the pound for pound list is too low - a result of the relative low-profile of this division. I’d probably put him at #2 behind only Loma.
Tony Bellew is a very, very different fighter from Usyk. Bellew is a big name in the British scene, and has been for awhile. He fought most of his career at Light Heavyweight, but moved up to Cruiserweight after a 2013 loss to Adonis Stevenson. He’s undefeated since the move. His last two fights were at Heavyweight, where he scored back to back wins over David Haye in a pair of big, spectacle type match-ups. Those fights, combined with his role in the movie Creed, have given him even more recognition, making him a great marquee opponent for Usyk - and there are not many of those at Cruiserweight. He’s the underdog here (though surprisingly only at +500) and, in his own words, has nothing to lose.
What can fans expect?
What makes this fight a must-watch (and, to be clear, it is a must-watch) is the spectacle. This is going to feel like a big fight, with highly vocal fans rabid for a Bellew win. But as I said, Usyk operates in a rarified air in boxing today. He doesn’t feel quite as invulnerable as Lomachenko - his win in the WBSS tournament was by no means an easy walk-through - but still none have figured out how to defeat him. Will that man be Bellew? Almost certainly not. His wins over Haye were big from a star-making standpoint, but Haye was pretty done, especially in the second fight, and Bellew got away with a degree of sloppiness that Usyk will make him pay dearly for. Bellew will be gutsy and give this the old college try, no doubt. But he might pay dearly for it.
Prediction: Oleksandr Usyk, KO
Should you watch?
Yes. One of the sport’s best against an underdog the fans will be behind. Sure it’s going to likely end up a slaughter, but it should be a lot of fun, and, so sue me, sometimes a fun fight is worth it.