Boxer Tony Bellew has warned opponent Oleksandr Usyk to focus on him before planning ahead for a potential bout with Anthony Joshua. Bellew will challenge for each of Usyk’s five cruiserweight belts at the Manchester Arena next weekend, and the 35-year-old year believes that fans are wrong to underestimate him, citing his first victory over David Haye as an example of his ability to perform under pressure.
Whatever your opinion of Tony Bellew, it’s obvious that he has matured in the ring over the last few years. Since losing to Adonis Stevenson in 2013, Bellew has won 10 consecutive fights, including a shock victory over David Haye in 2017. When Haye forced a rematch after claiming that he was injured during the first bout, Bellew beat him again, further consolidating his status as one of the UK’s premier fighters.
Bellew v Haye was initially described as a David v Goliath match up, and Bellew currently finds himself in a similar position ahead of his fight with undefeated boxer Oleksandr Usyk. Since making his debut in 2013, the formidable Ukrainian has emerged as one of boxing’s greatest talents, boasting a perfect 15 for 15 record, with 11 knockouts.
Indeed, fans and promoters are already preparing for Usyk to step up to the heavyweight division and challenge Anthony Joshua within the next couple of years, but Bellew has suggested that his opponent should focus on the challenge at hand.
“People look at me as if they think I’m a good enough name for them to qualify to fight AJ,” said Bellew. “I don’t know how they think that, but they do. “Oleksandr Usyk will not be the first, and he possibly won’t be the last. Let’s just see how it goes.
“Ultimately he has to go through me. Everyone has to go through me. Let’s just see how that pans out.”
“I’ve been wrote off before, I’m being wrote off again,” he added. “More people thought I was going to get knocked out, going into the first David Haye fight, then think I can lose this fight, so it’s nothing new.
“Everybody thought I was a sacrificial lamb, going into the first David Haye fight, and I proved that I wasn’t.
“This is exactly the same. It looks on paper as if I haven’t got a hope in hell. It’s nothing new to me.”