Saturday night sees the first ever defence of all five cruiserweight world titles, as World Boxing Super Series winner Oleksandr Usyk puts his belts on the line against former WBC champ Tony Bellew.
Bellew’s resurgence over the past five years has been remarkable.
Since losing to Adonis Stevenson in 2013, the Liverpudlian has rattled off 10 successive victories, won his first world title against Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park and moved up to heavyweight to earn back-to-back stoppages against David Haye.
This has been undoubtedly the best period of Bellew’s career, and those wins over Haye prove he shouldn’t be discounted, even against the most daunting of opponents.
It’s hard to see how he can beat Usyk, though.
The Ukrainian looked unstoppable during the WBSS, when he beat Marco Huck, Mairis Breidis and Murat Gassiev to win the Muhammad Ali trophy and become the undisputed champion.
Usyk is built like a heavyweight, but also has agility and technical ability that is rarely seen in the higher weight classes.
He lacks Bellew’s one-punch power, but has proven with 11 KO wins that he can overwhelm opponents with his accuracy and relentless jab.
This won’t be the one-sided fight that Usyk’s price of , looks much likelier than a stoppage given how gutsy a fighter Bellew is.
The Englishman has been put on his back on a few occasions though, including during that victory over Makabu in 2016, so Usyk to score a knockdown and win a decision – with odds boosted to – is a great bet.
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