TICKET Usyk has trav­elled well and is on the road to great­ness

Irish Daily Mirror - - SPORTS -

TONY BELLEW does not need me to tell him the scale of the chal­lenge he faces against Olek­sandr Usyk in Manch­ester tonight, the tough­est test of his ca­reer.

Only four years sep­a­rate them, but at 35 Bellew has been in a lot of hard fights. In pro terms, Usyk is a young 31.

The Ukrainian is an out­stand­ing tal­ent, win­ning world am­a­teur and Olympic gold at heavy­weight in 2011 and 2012 re­spec­tively, beat­ing cur­rent IBF light heavy­weight cham­pion Ar­tur Beter­biev at each tour­na­ment.

In July he beat Mu­rat Gassiev to be­come the first uni­fied cruis­er­weight cham­pion in his­tory. He is packed into the weight, equally adept go­ing for­ward or back and ut­terly re­lent­less.

Bellew likes to bring it but no more than this fella.

Gassiev hits as hard as Bellew but couldn’t budge Usyk. Mairis

Briedis has a de­cent dig and found the tar­get but he couldn’t shift him ei­ther.

Usyk has won and de­fended ver­sions of the ti­tle ev­ery time in his op­po­nent’s back yard.

He fought Gassiev in Moscow, Briedis in Riga, Marco Huck in Ger­many, Michael Hunter in the States and Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland.

And here he is on the road again for his 16th pro fight.

Bellew has only two de­feats in a 33-fight ca­reer, both at light heavy­weight. He should never have taken on Ado­nis Steven­son and Nathan Clev­erly at 175 pounds.

He avenged the lat­ter at cruiser in an­other bruis­ing en­counter.

I’ve come to ad­mire Bellew. The blus­ter and hot air of his ear­lier ca­reer has gone. He proved a lot of peo­ple wrong against David Haye (be­low) in the first fight and re­peated the dose as he said he would in the sec­ond.

But Usyk (above) is a fighter at his fear­some peak, an en­tirely dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion to a di­min­ished Haye.

Bellew is hon­est enough to recog­nise that.

The win­dow for vic­tory is nar­row, be­tween rounds four and eight I would say, when he might just en­gi­neer an op­por­tu­nity to take out Usyk.

Bellew has to stay with Usyk for as long as he can. He might have to sac­ri­fice the early rounds in or­der to fash­ion that chance to strike.

Usyk will be on him from the off.

Like Briedis, Bellew of­fers more va­ri­ety than Gassiev and can go through the gears, but es­sen­tially presents the same puncher’s pro­file.

The longer the fight pro­gresses the tougher it gets for Bellew. I see Usyk win­ning, prob­a­bly by late stop­page.

If Bellew has enough left in the tank he might take Usyk the dis­tance.

But that would ar­guably be ask­ing too much at this stage of the game.

Fol­low Barry on Twit­ter @Clonescy­clone @Mcguigan­s_­gym @Cy­clone­promo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.