EXCLUSIVE: Tony Bellew gives verdict on Oleksandr Usyk at heavyweight
Ten months on from leaving the sport that he dedicated a vast portion of his life to, Tony Bellew is very much content in retirement.
At a recent Matchroom show, Bellew, on duty for Sky commentary, caught up with former rival, Oleksandr Usyk. The man who confirmed his retirement last November.
Speaking exclusively to World Boxing News, Bellew claims it was an honour to catch up with the man who he labels, “The best I ever faced.”
“It was great to see him,” buzzed Bellew. “I respected him greatly before sharing a ring with him. That increased once our fight was over.
“Seeing him in London at the Dillian Whyte show was nice. We both went through a lot when we fought. But now our lives are in different places entirely so it was good to hear his thoughts and plans. What he intends to do next.
“He was an absolutely fantastic champion at cruiserweight, one of the very best. Judging by his ambitions so far in his professional career, I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t make a big impact up at heavyweight because he certainly has the ability.”
Usyk’s next move is unconfirmed at the time of writing but there is talk that a potential clash with Carlos Takam will be rearranged.
The Ukrainian was due to face Takam back in spring but withdrew after suffering an injury. The fight with the experienced Frenchman would’ve been a key indicator of Usyk’s standing in the heavyweight league. There’s hope that the fight can be salvaged for later in the year.
Bellew holds no fears that Usyk has the potential to have a successful stint at heavyweight.
“In terms of skill, he’s head and shoulders above most of the other guys. Tyson Fury has a lot of skill, but I think Usyk might just be that little bit better schooled.
“My only concern is his actual size. If you put him with the guys who are around the 6ft 3 mark then I think he has a lot of fun with them. But the bigger guys are going to be a problem. The bulk of them can punch as well.
“If you’re putting him in with someone like Deontay Wilder, you have to wonder what it’s going to be like when he lands on him.
“I think he’s definitely a good addition and that he’ll have success there, but the top two or three guys might just have a bit too much.”
Chris Walker is Lead Writer for World Boxing News. Follow Chris on Twitter @OfficialWalks