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‘The fight to make is Deontay Wilder versus Oleksandr Usyk’

Deontay Wilder
Tony Bellew reveals plans for a new division to be created between cruiserweight and heavyweight and the fights that can be made

AT the WBC Annual Convention last month, the sanctioning body put forward plans to create a new division that will sit between cruiserweight and heavyweight in an effort to stop too many bouts occurring in the marquee division where there is a huge difference in weight.

Tony Bellew, a former contender at light-heavy, heavy and WBC champion at cruiser, was put forward by the organisation as an ambassador for the plan.

“I’ve spoken to the WBC a few times about the plans, which originally came from the mind of Don Majeski,” Bellew told Boxing News on our Opening Bell podcast last week.

“I didn’t agree with the old cruiserweight division limit being raised to 200lbs. I didn’t see the point in that. The gap from light-heavyweight (175lbs) to cruiserweight is far too much.

“What we can’t do is start messing with the old weight classes. Don’t ever change the light-heavyweight limit from 175lbs, for example. I’d like to see the cruiserweight limit put down to 190lbs then we introduce the new weight class from 190lbs to 220 or 225lbs. It allows the small heavyweights and the big cruiserweights to have a level playing field.”

Tony Bellew
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The WBC have been here before. They introduced the super-middleweight division and the cruiserweight division. Neither weight class was embraced at the start. In time, though, both grew in popularity but it wasn’t until fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns campaigned at 168lbs and Evander Holyfield cleaned up at cruiserweight that the weight classes became widely accepted.

Bellew accepts that the new division – which is yet to be named though ‘super-cruiserweight’ has been mentioned – will need marquee fights immediately if it’s to be a success.

“Working with the WBC, I’d like to propose some fighters and fights for the new division. Michael Hunter would be an obvious choice for the new division, so too Alexnder Povetkin,” Bellew explained.

“But the fight you’d like to make would be Deontay Wilder versus Oleksandr Usyk.

“Speaking from experience, Usyk is technically the best in the heavyweight division. He’s a genius. But the one thing that will hold him back is sheer size. He will not be able to beat the real big boys for that reason.

“It’s freaky how Wilder is so light. I’ve been up close with him and he’s huge but the truth is he’s rarely above 225lbs.”

Heavyweights have been expanding for many years and there’s little reason to think that will stop. Bellew is quick to stress that the heavyweight division must always be the top division but believes the sport must address what comes below.

“At the moment, we have an eight-pound jump from middle [160] to super-middle [168], a seven-pound jump from super-middle to light-heavyweight [175]. Then we have a 25-pound jump from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight – that just doesn’t make sense.

“At heavyweight, we’re seeing the fighters get bigger and bigger. It’s quite clear that there are heavyweights and super-heavyweights. You can never label a division super-heavyweight in professional boxing but it’s been clear since Lennox Lewis fought Vitali Klitschko in 2003 that the heavyweights are growing.

“Look at Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte. They’re all huge. I know Povetkin has just beaten Whyte but, in my opinion, that’s a freak incident: a small heavyweight taking out a big heavyweight. It doesn’t happen very often.

“This new division is inevitable, I believe. The need for it is only going to get more apparent now the heavyweight division is so popular again. We have to get the divisional limits right and we have to make the right fights straightaway: Let’s make Oleksandr Usyk against Deontay Wilder as the first fight in the weight division.”

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