David Haye Exclusive: Tony Bellew has the X factor when he's the underdog
Betfair Ambassador David Haye predicts the upcoming bout between Usyk v Bellew and thinks Bellew could win, as long as it doesn't go the distance...
"Bellew will need to find a way to stop Usyk, particularly with his body assault. I don't think the Ukranian is going to look at him and think, "This is going to be my toughest fight." For Bellew, that feeling is the opposite. He knows this is going to be his hardest fight and he has to rise to the occasion."
Heart takes Bellew a long way
Whilst he has a huge task ahead, I do believe Tony Bellew can win this fight against Oleksandr Usyk. Tony has shown that in his past performances, all of which he has entered as the underdog, that he's got true heart, he's got that will to win and where many thinks he can't do it, he proves them wrong.
He's shown that he can rise to the occasion; he thrives on the biggest stage. He's got that little X factor that might not be obvious to everyone but when you're in the ring with him it becomes apparent and come Saturday night Usyk is going to find out about it.
I think Bellew benefits from being the underdog, it takes the pressure off him, he doesn't enter the ring with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. If he's able to have a good round and he catches Usyk with some big shots, the home crowd will be right behind him, this energy will be infectious, that's a huge advantage him going into these pay-for-view spectacles especially when the underdog.
Bomber will need to stop Usyk
Bellew will need to find a way to stop Usyk, particularly with his body assault. I don't think the Ukranian is going to look at him and think, "This is going to be my toughest fight." For Bellew, that feeling is the opposite. He knows this is going to be his hardest fight and he has to rise to the occasion. Usyk has an air of invincibility about him.
I imagine Usyk is anticipating an easy win, whereas Bellew is expecting the fight of his life. Tony has been here before. He's going to be hitting on the break, hitting him low. He's got to get rough, really impose himself and use that lion heart that he's got.
Without question, come Saturday night, Bellew must bring his best game, he doesn't want to get caught at range and will need to make assaults count. He's got to really rough this guy up on the inside, hitting him on the hip or whatever he can do to slow and frustrate Usyk. As soon as Usyk starts letting his hands go that's the opportunity for Bellew to hit him with those big left hands, and if he lands, that's where he can win.
The winner won't go onto bigger things
Do I see the winner of this fight challenging Anthony Joshua any time soon? No, I don't believe so. If it's Tony Bellew he retires, as an undisputed champ. If it's Usyk, I can't see how he can come into the heavyweight division. It's a division which currently has a number of big names and large characters, I'm not convinced a fight could be made for him at heavyweight that would excite the fans.
As I said in my previous column, Usyk is a tricky southpaw who doesn't really bring any ticket sales or PPV buys. In some ways I'd like him to prove me wrong, I made the cruiserweight to heavyweight transition myself - so I naturally have an affiliation little (ish) guys.
I think that the fight could go one of two ways - if it is won by stoppage, it'll be Bellew, if it goes to points, Usyk will be raising the belts at the end of the night.
I can see Tony doing what he has done against many good fighters, seemingly from nowhere, find a peach of a left hook. This winning shot he can pull out of nowhere, even if he may be hurt or pushed to the ropes. Usyk might be going for the finish when suddenly Bellew pulls a big shot, wobbles him and stops him.
I don't think there's anything that Tony Bellew can say, that can affect Usyk's game plan or get under his skin. He comes from a very experienced team. Vasyl Lomachenko, arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, his father trained Usyk. They understand the mindset and understand the psychology of boxing.
My prediction for this fight is Bellew by KO, TKO or DQ, if for whatever the reason the southpaw proves to be too awkward then Usyk by Dec/Tech Dec.
Bellew by KO, TKO or DQ @ [7.8]
Usyk by Dec/Tech Dec @ [2.7]