Boxer & Pundit
Usyk vs Witherspoon: Tony Bellew explains how Oleksandr Usyk can dominate... and how he may fall short
"His chin is up in the air sometimes and if that continues then it might get caught"
Last Updated: 12/10/19 7:37am
Tony Bellew believes his former opponent Oleksandr Usyk can become world heavyweight champion by challenging Deontay Wilder - but warns that he won't beat everybody in his new division.
Usyk knocked out Bellew last year to defend his undisputed cruiserweight title and, on Saturday night at 2am live on Sky Sports Action, debuts as a heavyweight against Chazz Witherspoon.
Bellew believes Usyk can achieve his goal of becoming world heavyweight champion if he targets WBC holder Deontay Wilder.
What are Usyk's strengths and weaknesses?
Tony Bellew said: "Being in there with him you notice straight away that he's always doing something and making you think every step of the way. His footwork is unbelievable for such a big man, and it's his feet that get him into position for attacks.
"For his weaknesses, I still think he's a little bit open and can be caught. Watching his amateur fights, there was always a reaction from him when he got caught clean, but no one has exploited that so far in the pros. His chin is up in the air sometimes and if that continues then it might get caught one time."
What did you struggle with most when you fought him?
Tony Bellew said: "Pinning him down was hard because, as I've said, his footwork is just on another level. I'd planned to get close and really work him over, but any time I tried to make a fight out of it, he was just too elusive. His feet will get him very far in this sport, and the way he feints and sets up attacks is also impressive."
How can Usyk be hurt?
There are a few occasions from the amateurs where Usyk is caught flush and he doesn't like it.
Tony Bellew said: "The answer to this is simple, but executing it is another matter. You've got to hit him clean.
"There are a few occasions from the amateurs where he's caught flush and he doesn't like it. Landing that shot is going to be hard because he's such a brilliant defensive fighter, but I think if you can find the target then there's a good chance he could go. Doing that is a difficult task though."
How is preparation different when moving to heavyweight?
Tony Bellew said: "It's much easier and I think Usyk will love every minute of it. I've fought at 175lbs and cruiserweight for the bulk of my career so making weight and dieting was always something I didn't enjoy. Heavyweight removes that problem instantly.
"Don't get me wrong, you can't just stuff your face, but eating the right foods as much as you want is fine and it removes the pressure of having to make weight. That was the biggest difference for me. The sparring becomes different as you're dealing with bigger men, but it's a necessity if you want to get in there and do it for real."
Out of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Deontay Wilder, who is Usyk most likely to beat?
Tony Bellew said: "Wilder, and that's an easy answer. Don't get me wrong, if Wilder lands on him then it's not going to end well for Usyk, but you can say that about any heavyweight who Wilder lands on.
"I just think [Joshua and Fury] are too big for him. Fundamentally, he's a much better boxer than all of them, and I include Fury in that, but he's just too small to compete with them for 12 rounds. I think the size of Fury and Joshua would be a massive advantage and I don't think Usyk could overcome it."
Will Usyk win a world heavyweight title?
Tony Bellew said: "Yes. If he was to fight Andy Ruiz tomorrow, then I think he'd win that fight by just being himself and doing what he does best. There are only a few guys I don't see him winning against, but he's by far the most skilled fighter in the division and that will always give him a chance. Watching his moves there will be interesting and I wish him all the very best. He's an excellent fighter and I'm certain he will do well."