Tony Bellew says he will retire after one more fight, and if he somehow ends up winning it, he will definitely be going out on top. Bellew is hoping to upset the undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) holds the WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF world cruiserweight titles. It's a rare achievement in boxing, with the alphabet soup of sanctioning organizations making it difficult for any one fighter to pull them all together and claim supremacy over a division. Usyk's considered one of the best at his profession, with Ring ranking him the No. 5 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) is stepping back down from heavyweight to take on Usyk.
The 35-year-old boxer says Saturday is his last night in the ring, per ESPN.com's Nick Parkinson:
"I was retired until this guy called my name, I'm hoping this is my last fight. Many could call my name but not one person could call my name while holding on to four belts being the universally recognised best cruiserweight in the world, he had too much to bargain with for me to turn down."
Here's how to watch.
Usyk vs. Bellew Fight Info
When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET (main event expected 10 p.m.)
Where: Manchester Arena in Manchester, England
TV: Sky Sports Box Office (PPV, UK only)
Odds: Usyk -800 (bet $800 to win $100), Bellew +500 (bet $100 to win $500)
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com and updated as of Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 a.m. ET.
It should come as no surprise that Usyk is a heavy favorite. The undefeated Ukrainian is four years younger than Bellew, has a four-inch reach advantage (78" to 74" per BoxRec), has knockout power and has those four belts.
Usyk's rise to the top began a little over two years ago, when he beat Krzysztof Glowacki to win the WBO world title. Four bouts later he beat Mairis Briedis by majority decision to add the WBC strap, then followed that up with a win over Murat Gassiev in July to take IBF and WBA belts. Now, just under four months later, he's putting them all on the line against Bellew, a former WBC world champion at cruiserweight.
Usyk's extremely talented, but his opponent is no slouch. Bellew has finished his last four fights with TKO wins, including two against David Haye at heavyweight. His power can not be discounted in this fight.
Bellew believes it will help him break the champion down, per Sky Sports Boxing:
The 31-year-old Usyk is unlikely to be fazed by the power threat. He is a well-rounded fighter and can break down Bellew in multiple ways.
His sterling, extensive amateur career included a gold medal at heavyweight at the 2012 London Games. It's clear he trains hard and handles himself well.
Usyk also appears to have fun doing it, as this nifty tennis ball trick from the public workout shows, per the Press Association's Rich McCarthy:
If Usyk can beat Bellew, promoter Eddie Hearn has said they will explore a bout against heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in 2019, per SkySports.com's Richard Damerell.
Dropping Joshua's name could well just be a bunch of talk to drum up interest for Saturday, but the question does linger. If Usyk handles Bellew with ease on Saturday, what does the undisputed champion do next? Cruiserweight is hardly a premiere division in boxing. Usyk may want to challenge himself at heavyweight, a division that always draws wider interest and one he had success in as an amateur.
Bellew may not be hinting at any plans beyond Saturday, but a stunning upset would give him four belts and plenty of opportunity for another big payday if he chooses. That said, he does really seem to be a fighter on his way out, even saying he hopes he does not make quick work of Usyk.
"I swear, I hope this fight is not over in two rounds because if I come out and land a monster punch—it would be a disaster for me because that would mean I would have more left to give," he said, per Parkinson.
It's a strange, somewhat refreshing break from the usual pre-fight chatter, where fighters tend to talk as if the complete annihilation of their opponent is a foregone conclusion.
Bellew knows his career is winding down. He's had some successes and made a name for himself, even if he hasn't spent much time as a world champion. The only fighters he has lost to were both stalwarts at the time (Nathan Cleverly and Adonis Stevenson). A win over Usyk would be huge for his legacy, but he's going to have to overcome the champion's devastating combination of skill, speed and power to do it.