Oleksandr Usyk says the reason he agreed to fight former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew was so that he could get a title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who is signed with the same promoter Eddie Hearn. Usyk recently signed with Hearn as well, so all three of them are with Hearn as part of his Matchroom Boxing stable.
Many boxing fans have wondered why Usyk, IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion, would want to waste time fighting Bellew, a guy that never proved himself against the best when he fought in the division, but now it’s clear. Usyk wanted the title shot against Joshua and the fastest way for him to get that fight was to go through Bellew in the first step. Usyk will likely need to fight another Matchroom fighter in Dillian Whyte after he beats Bellew before he can get the title shot against Joshua.
“One reason we have agreed to fight Bellew is to get to Joshua,” Usyk said to thesun.co.uk. “It is exactly part of the strategy and why we have this co-operation with Eddie Hearn. He has Tony, he has Anthony, he has Dillian Whyte and a couple more heavyweights. It’s the best way, the shortest – not the easiest – way to fight Anthony.”
By Usyk facing Hearn’s fighters Bellew and Whyte, he’ll increase their worth and he’ll help build a fight against Joshua in the future. If Usyk follows in a path that takes him from Bellew to Whyte, then he could potentially be ready to face Joshua by 2019 if everything goes right. However, Whyte will likely be the one that faces Joshua on April 13 next year. Whyte will likely lose that fight. Whether Whyte wants to take on a tough fighter like Usyk after a loss to Joshua is unclear. Whyte might prefer to build his way back up slowly to a third fight with Joshua by taking on soft opposition or maybe he could go after WBC champion Wilder for a title shot.
Although Bellew is talking up his chances of beating Usyk, he’s not considered as having a real chance of defeating him. At best, the 35-year-old Bellew has a puncher’s chance of beating him, and even that chance is slim to the point of being almost nonexistent. Bellew has taken the easy route in his fights since his loss to Adonis Stevenson. When Bellew should have been taking meaningful fights against Mairis Briedis, Usyk, Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, he instead was steered in the direction of weaker opposition in BJ Flores, Illunga Makabu, Mateusz Masternak, Ivica Bacurin, Arturs Kulikauskis, Nathan Cleverly, Valery Brudov and Julio Dos Santos. The experience just isn’t there for Bellew at the cruiserweight level. For that reason, you can’t consider him as having a real chance of beating Usyk. This fight is arguably a golden parachute for Bellew. He’ll get a good payday in losing to Usyk by either a lopsided 12 round decision or a stoppage. My preidiction is Bellew getting stopped where he quits. He’s says he’s not going to ever quit, but I think he will. Usyk will wear him down to the point where he’ll take a knee or have his trainer stop it in the corner. It’ll be ugly, but this what happens when you get a guy with no real experience against quality cruiserweights taking on the best fighter in the division in Usyk. In a perfect world, Bellew would have proven himself against Briedis and Dorticos to get the title shot against Usyk. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. Bellew is getting the fight against Usyk off of wins over a broken down David Haye, bottom ranked BJ Flores and Illunga Makabu. The outcome of the Usyk vs. Bellew fight is utterly predictable. Bellew gets stopped. End of story.