August 3, 2018
August 3, 2018
Tony Bellew

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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TONY BELLEW was enjoying his honeymoon when Oleksandr Usyk dominated Murat Gassiev in the unification bout that closed the inaugural World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament on July 21. Within seconds of the final bell, talk was rife about a potential meeting between the pair. Usyk made a threat to Bellew in his post-fight interview, which was instantly responded to via the Liverpool man’s Twitter page.

“It was a brilliant performance where he didn’t put a foot wrong,” Bellew told Boxing News. “I predicted Usyk to win the whole thing from the start, but I didn’t expect such a comfortable final because Gassiev is someone with
a lot of power and has a trainer who excels in getting his fighters to cut the ring off. Usyk didn’t give him a chance all night and in the end it became quite easy for him. After such a performance, it’s flattering to see that I’m the first name he calls out.”

Bellew’s profile, now at an all-time high, has allowed him to be in the frame for a number of potential superfights following a blistering spell of form that saw him become WBC champion in 2016, a belt now owned by Usyk, and complete a resounding double over former cruiserweight and heavyweight titlist, David Haye. Such victories has seen Bellew’s name linked to the likes of Tyson Fury and Andre Ward in recent months. Although both assignments remain appealing, Bellew now admits that Usyk fight is the one that stands out the most.

Tony Bellew vs David Haye

“He [Usyk] brings the full package in terms of belts and prizes and when I take them from him then what else you can say? If the fight is arranged at cruiserweight then I’ll have all the belts and I’ll be recognised as one of the best fighters on the entire planet.

“In terms of finances he might not be the richest fight out there for me, but he brings a lot to the table and as a package that contains a lot of belts and good money.

“Usyk will certainly do for me. Our teams are talking at the moment and they’ve been positive so far. There’ll be more talks in the coming days and weeks so that everybody can be happy. If this is something that can be done for November then I’ll be over the moon.”

An eager observer of Usyk for a long time, Bellew believes he has what it takes to shatter the 2012 Olympic gold medallist’s confidence and ruin his unbeaten record. Sparring partners for a matter of minutes back when both were successful amateurs, Bellew continued to follow the progress of Usyk throughout his unpaid adventure. These observations continued when Usyk turned professional and Bellew, always a studious operator, applauded his potential rival from afar as he climbed the cruiserweight rankings quickly.

“There’s a lot that you can say about him and it’s all true but I’m not Murat Gassiev, Marius Breidis, or Marco Huck,” Bellew added. “Breidis showed everyone that you can get to him and push him close and the reason for that was because he underestimated him, and I’ll bet you anything you want that he’ll underestimate me as well and that will be his undoing. He gave Gassiev all the respect in the world and that shows that he’s a fighter who has fears like everyone else. He picks and chooses who gets his respect and he’s shown that throughout the whole competition. We’ll see where we are in a couple of weeks, but I’m hopeful that a deal can be made because everyone is going to see me prove the entire world wrong yet again.”

This article was originally published in Boxing News magazine, out now