On Saturday night, November 10, 2018, all four Cruiserweight world titles will be on the line, as reigning WBO, WBC, WBA and IBO champion Aleksandr Usyk will take on former WBC titleholder Tony Bellew from the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England presented live on DAZN in the United States.
A highly-anticipated contest that undoubtedly represents one of the biggest fights of 2018, this matchup is quite an intriguing one stylistically, as it will pit not only two of the biggest names in the sport up against each other, but two of the most talented fighters in the sport as well.
Starting off with Usyk, the 31-year-old Ukrainian-born champion holds a perfect 15-0 professional record, with 11 of those victories coming via stoppage. He’s also a former Olympic gold medalist. Standing 6’3″ tall, Usyk will have a slight height disadvantage, but he does own a four inch reach advantage over the 6’4″ Bellew.
From a skill standpoint, Usyk is a terrific boxer with a high-fight IQ. Fighting out of the southpaw stance, he uses his tremendous athleticism and movement along with polished footwork to attack from various angles where he looks to string together combinations.
Typically, he also shows up in great shape, preferring to set a high tempo and a fight at his own pace.
Most recently, he defended his titles against Murat Gassiev via unanimous decision this past July in Russia.
Moving on to Bellew, the 35-year-old Scouser holds a 30-2-1 professional record, with 20 of those victories coming by way of stoppage. Most recently, he’s scored back-to-back TKO victories over David Haye at Heavyweight after vacating his Cruiserweight title.
Stylistically, the “Bomber” fights out of the orthodox stance and is a powerful puncher with an underrated jab and a strong left hook. In this fight, he’ll likely have to make it a physical contest, using his size and strength to disrupt Usyk and land big shots.
In terms of a prediction, I see this fight being a close contest early on. For Bellew, who will likely retire after this fight, a knockout stoppage is likely the best path to victory. However, while I expect him to have a bit of success early on, I just don’t see him landing the fight-ending blow he may need.
Usyk is the younger fighter and if he can use his movement to set a pace and a rhythm that he feels comfortable with, he’ll be quite tough to beat. It’s also important to note that Bellew will be dropping weight to return to Cruiserweight, which could be a factor as well.
Ultimately, I expect Usyk to avoid Bellew’s big shots early on before pulling away later in the fight to score a decision victory.
Header photo by DAZN