EXCLUSIVE: Andre Ward advises Tony Bellew to gain advantage, fight Aleksandr Usyk at heavyweight
Andre Ward believes that Tony Bellew should fight cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk at heavyweight if the two do collide this year.
Bellew and Usyk are being touted to fight this year, with a November 10th date being identified as an ideal date.
One question is, if the fight was to happen, is what weight the two should battle. Bellew’s last two bouts have been at heavyweight against David Haye, whereas Usyk has been operating solely at cruiserweight.
Ward and Bellew know one another from their time together acting in the Creed movie and the former pound-for-pound king gave his thoughts on the match-up.
“In terms of Usyk and Bellew, that’s a good fight. He and I have a relationship (Bellew); we’re not like best friends or anything but there is a mutual respect there,” Ward exclusively told World Boxing News.
“First of all, I think Bellew is in any fight he is in, I don’t think there is any fight where you feel like he doesn’t have a shot at winning.
“Having said that, If I were advising Bellew, I do think it would benefit him to take the fight at the weight he’s been fighting at for the past couple of years, which is heavyweight.
“You can’t campaign at a certain weight for over a year and strip it down 20 or 30 lbs and still think you’re going to have success. You may make the weight, but when you make the weight, what are you going to have left?” Ward added.
One issue for Bellew is that if he was to fight Usyk at heavyweight, the four belts the Ukrainian earned in the World Boxing Super Series wouldn’t be on the line.
However, Ward thinks Bellew is in ‘the driver’s seat’ in the negotiations and should look to gain every advantage.
“I do get chasing the four belts and in theory that makes sense. Like ‘okay this is my last fight’ which is what he’s said publicly, ‘I win all the belts and make history and go out on top’ but realistically I’m not sure that makes sense,” Ward said.
“It may make sense to say ‘it would be a great feat to go down and make history, but you got to come to me’. Usyk has to come to Bellew if he wants the fight as Bellew has the fanbase and is in the driver’s seat.
“Usyk is a great fighter, but he’s not really known in the UK or the US, I think he’s known where he is from but outside of that he’s not a household name and that gives Bellew the bargaining power. If you put Usyk’s name up against Bellew’s there’s no comparison.” Ward added.
Ward himself has been linked to bouts with both men, and although Ward is retired, he did offer a glimmer of hope that boxing fans could see him one more time, albeit a slim one.
When asked whether he would face the winner, the 34-year-old said: “I guess it’s hard to answer directly. I have no plans on coming back. But you never know what’s going to happen, but my intentions are to never fight again.
“We have to just let it play out and see what happens.”
Thomas Davison is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow Thomas on Twitter @thomasdavison93