Usyk vs Bellew: No happy ending for Bomber
Usyk vs Bellew Preview and Predictions
Tony Bellew only has a "puncher's chance" of beating Oleksandr Usyk to become the undisputed world cruiserweight champion on Saturday night.
That is not our prediction - those are the words of Bellew himself as he prepares to face the undefeated Usyk, who is holder of the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and Ring magazine titles.
Fight night information
When is it? Saturday 10th November
What time will it start? 22:00
Where is it? Manchester Arena
Which channel is it on? Sky Sports Box Office
Bellew is stepping back down from the heavyweight division following his two most recent bouts against David Haye in the top division and this could be his final fight in the hope of fulfilling his dream of becoming world champion.
The Liverpudlian briefly retired after the second of those fights with Haye in May but was tempted back into the ring by the opportunity to face Usyk.
His opponent is a 31-year-old Olympic gold medallist who is unbeaten in 15 fights as a professional and is expected to step up to heavyweight in the near future.
Usyk is the 1/5 favourite and asked if he was facing he best opponent yet, Bellew said: "Yes - he is the ultimate test. There is nothing this man cannot do in a boxing ring. He is the most complete fighter I have ever faced. Everything he does is class.
"I meet a man who has exceptional skills, an exceptional talent. He has everything I have except that one thing - I can turn someone's lights out in the blink of an eye.
"It's never happened to him before but it could happen on Saturday. I am going to find a way. I have to beat him up on Saturday, or find a way to do the impossible.
"The only chance I have is a puncher's chance - I cannot outbox this man. He is a formidable opponent. He has everything any boxer could possibly want and he is a horrible southpaw.
"But I've shown what I can do at heavyweight and, believe you me, I will show even more what I can do at cruiserweight. I am faster, sharper and possibly even stronger at cruiserweight.
"As good as he is, as great as he is, he is meeting someone with something inside him. I don't know what I am going to do, when I am going to do it, but I just know I am going to punch him in the face really hard on Saturday."
Bellew's character has to be admired but we fear he could be outclassed on Saturday against Usyk, who has already come through some tough bouts and proved he can cope with hostile home crowds.
Bellew will need to turn back the clock to produce his best performance but his victories against Haye came against an opponent at the end of his career.
Usyk is a very different proposition but given that Bellew has lost inside the distance just once during his career, we expect this fight to go the distance at 5/4.
Ultimately though this is a fight we expect Usyk to dominate and the pick of our Usyk vs Bellew predictions is the Ukrainian to prevail on points at odds of 7/4.
Usyk vs Bellew Betting Tips
Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor
Usyk is the clear 1/5 favourite as he looks to bolster his record of 15 successive victories, 11 of which were by KO. At first glance he looks to have a very light record for a 31-year-old undisputed cruiserweight world champion, but having only turned professional at the age of 26 off the back of a glittering amateur career his rise to the top has been remarkable. Usyk managed to clear out the cruiserweight division in his previous six fights, although there is a theory that had Tony Bellew concentrated on the cruiserweight division for the majority of his 33 pro fights he may have had similar success. Bellew has, in the main, jumped between weights, only settling on cruiserweight towards the end of his career and this fight could now be seen as the decider of two of the greatest cruiserweights of all time. Bellew will apparently retire and hang up his gloves up no matter what the result on Saturday night and this is the deciding factor for me. It's very hard to side with a man that has decided to retire when it comes to the betting. No doubt he will leave it all in the ring as usual but retirement is in the back of his mind and that raises doubts. The betting expects Usyk to dispose of Bellew inside 12 rounds, with an Usyk KO odds on in most places. I think the judges will be needed to split these two, and with some 6/4 around in the market about the fight going the distance I think this looks the play.