Usyk vs Bellew prediction, odds: How Tony can winWritten by Leroy Cleveland
Tonight, boxing's cruiserweight title is on the line.
Lineal champion Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), one of the best fighters in the world, pound for pound, will face the resilient Tony Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) who always seems to rise to the occasion. However, many can't conceive of a path to victory for Bellew as Usyk is technically superior, has a much stronger amateur pedigree, is quicker and probably punches just as hard if not harder.
Usyk vs Bellew odds
Straight win/loss odds vary but for the most part Usyk is a 1/6 favorite while Bellew sits at 9/2. And odds for a draw are 28/1.
- Usyk by KO, TKO or disqualification: 10/11
- Usyk by decision or technical decision: 6/4
- Bellew by KO, TKO or disqualification: 11/2
- Bellew by decision or technical decision: 20/1
How good is Usyk?
His amateur record, per RingTV, is 335-15. And let’s not forget, he was a Gold Medal winner at the 2012 Olympic Games representing Ukraine. As a pro, he's won all of the major world titles at cruiserweight and defeated standouts Murat Gassiev (then 26-0), and Mairis Briedis (then 23-0), and former long-reigning WBO champion Marco Huck (then 40-4-1).
Usyk vs Bellew
Titles: WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO, and RING Magazine
Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England
Time: Roughly 5PM ET
TV: Sky Sports Box Office (UK); Live stream: DAZN (US)
Michael Hunter, a former cruiserweight contender turned heavyweight, recently spoke with BoxingNewsOnline.net and shared some interesting tidbits about Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KO) who defeated him via a unanimous decision last year.
Discussing Usyk's imminent move to heavyweight, Hunter told BoxingNewsOnline.net:
"I think he would beat [Anthony] Joshua, without a doubt. I think he would outbox him and beat him on points very easily."
"I think, even in England. This guy has a lot of experience. Even though these guys are very big, we're used to fighting big guys."
"He's fought all over the world, he's fought in the Olympics, being in the big crowd is not going to be a problem for him and I think it would end up reversing on Anthony Joshua, the pressure would end up flipping on Anthony Joshua when they get in the ring," Hunter added.
"I know he's going to have probably some difficult times (as a heavyweight) getting fights because he's not a big puncher. He's more of a strict boxer."
So, how can Bellew defeat the ultra-skilled Usyk?
It's easier said than done.
For starters, confidence will be key and Bellew seems to have it in abundance. Perhaps it's a false sense of security, but Tony seems to truly believe he'll win - and he'll be a bigger threat to Usyk because of it.
Regarding strategy, if I'm Tony Bellew I'm going to want to make this fight very messy. He'll need to grapple, push and get rough on the inside while moving and punching in an unorthodox, unpredictable fashion while on the outside.
Don't be surprised if Bellew steps on Usyk's feet, makes silly faces, pushes down on the Ukrainian’s neck when in clinches and pivots in ways that'll force the technical Usyk to reset, keeping the champion from establishing a smooth rhythm.
Bellew will need to be unorthodox, awkward and very disjunct in his moving and punching to have any chance to win.
Former two-division champion David Haye, who was recently stopped twice by Bellew, thinks effective counterpunching and the left hook will be key for Tony.
"Having a long-range boxing match against someone who is so technically gifted could be the wrong strategy," said Haye to Sky Sports.
"Solid counter punches, get Usyk reaching, get Usyk coming towards him. I definitely feel Tony Bellew's counter punching skills are very underrated. I definitely found myself on the canvas a couple of times, because maybe I underestimated his speed of counter."
"He's [Usyk] always been very difficult and tricky to nail down. I definitely think he has the attributes to be a very awkward night for Tony, but having said all that, Tony's left hook is the equaliser. If Tony can land that left hook to the head, that left hook to the body, he can really get a foothold in this fight, and turn the tide."
Usyk vs Bellew prediction: I still like Usyk via a relatively close decision, 116-112; But look for Bellew to offer Usyk a lot of looks and mount a better attack then most expect.
Bellew will get cracked but he's proven to be very durable so don't expect him to succumb easily. In the end, however, Bellew will lack the speed and power to close the deal if he manages to rock the champion. Moreover, Usyk is too solid at cruiserweight, makes too few mistakes and will be able to adjust, although not easily, to anything Bellew brings to the table.
Please share your Usyk vs Bellew prediction.