One of the most anticipated fight’s of the year between Oleksandr Uysk and Tony Bellew takes place this weekend with all the cruiserweight belts the prize at stake. Matt Christie from Boxing News previews the clash and don’t forget to take advantage of our enhanced odds and betting tips for another explosive night of boxing.
The Road To Uysk v Bellew
Oleksandr Usyk became the first undisputed cruiserweight champion since Evander Holyfield this year, claiming all four major belts at the culmination of a highly impressive campaign in the World Boxing Super Series. Fighters like Marco Huck, Maris Briedis and Murat Gassiev were all defeated and only heightened Usyk’s reputation as one of the very best boxers on planet, pound for pound.
That reputation was born during his days as an amateur when Olympic gold at London 2012 wiped out miserable memories of an unsuccessful 2008 campaign. Mixing supreme ring intelligence with mischievous spite, Usyk has since eased into the professional ranks and amassed a 15-0 record. At 31, and targeting a money-spinning showdown with Anthony Joshua, Usyk scanned the boxing landscape for an opponent who could fast-track him to the heavyweight king.
Enter Tony Bellew. The Scouser who dusted himself off from a humbling loss to WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in 2013 to reenergise himself in the cruiserweight division. No longer a slave to making 175lbs, Bellew hit peak form in the higher weight class. In 2016, after six straight victories, Bellew turned on the style at his beloved Goodison Park to claim the WBC championship by marmelizing Ilunga Makabu in three rounds. One successful defence followed before an audacious leap to heavyweight and David Haye. Few expected him to win, many feared he would get hurt, yet Bellew – displaying all the guts and desire that makes him a danger to anyone – stunned Haye to win in 11 rounds. He repeated the feat in the rematch, triumphing in five. At 35 years old, and with a career turnaround of the ages secured, Bellew considered retirement. Until he caught the eye of Usyk, and the challenge – and a return to cruiserweight – was accepted…
What Each Must Do To Win
For Usyk, it would appear to be elementary. Fast of feet with exceptional upper body movement, Usyk is arguably the finest combination puncher the division has ever seen. Usyk is not faultless or impossible to hit, as the likes of Briedis and Michael Hunter have exhibited, yet he can dictate the distance and pace impeccably – as Huck and Gassiev discovered – when he recognises a threat from his opponent. And in Bellew, it’s insane to think Usyk will not come with respect. Expect him to take risks to a point, step inside the target zone to fire off his shots and invite Bellew to do the same. And it’s during those moments, when Bellew is launching his own punches, that Usyk can thrive.
The Evertonian, meanwhile, must start fast and use whatever roughhouse tactics he can get away with. He must muscle his way into the bout in the early going. Once Usyk is in a rhythm, he’s almost impossible to beat. However, Bellew’s jab is an underrated weapon and Usyk can be susceptible to a fast and educated lead. Another punch “Bomber” must look to detonate is his left hook, which against a fast southpaw like Usyk, could prove even more dangerous than the straight right. Bellew has the punches in his arsenal to win. Landing them is another matter entirely, however.
Uysk v Bellew Best Bets And Prediction
Plenty of people made money by betting on Bellew when he was the underdog against David Haye. As Bellew would say, ‘Fortune favours the brave’, and those who follow that mantra will find value in picking the Englishman to triumph. Want to be more specific and increase the value further? A KO/TKO victory for Bellew is his likeliest mode of success.
However, this seems too much of an ask for “Bomber”. Don’t forget he has been forced to lose weight for this bout and – at 35 years old – this could weaken Bellew to the point his task becomes impossible. Expect Bellew to make a fight of it in the early going, before losing his way in the middle rounds, and being a long way behind at the final bell. A points win for Usyk would appear the smartest bet, though Bellew being stopped as the fight slips away from him in the late rounds is worth a punt, too.
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*odds subject to change.