By Keith Idec
Tony Bellew’s belief is what the former cruiserweight champion is certain separates him from anyone Oleksandr Usyk previously has fought.
That self-assurance helped Bellew ignore intense skepticism and stop David Haye twice in their heavyweight fights. Upsetting Usyk in their 12-round cruiserweight title fight likely will be more difficult than beating Haye because, unlike Haye, Usyk is in his prime, has been active and is a better overall fighter than Haye even when Haye was young.
None of those factors have bothered Bellew during a training camp that is wrapping up in advance of their fight November 10 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England (Sky Sports Box Office; DAZN).
The Liverpool native is convinced he’ll beat the heavily favored southpaw and leave the ring with Usyk’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO cruiserweight championships.
“I have more flaws than him,” Bellew told Sky Sports News on Friday. “We all have flaws. But it’s about who can expose the other’s flaws. I don’t think any fighter has been good enough, strong enough, consistent enough or, most importantly, believed in themselves enough over the 12-round duration to go expose his weaknesses. I ain’t gonna tire. And nobody believes I can do it more than me.
“He’ll find out what it’s like to have someone in front of him who believes in themselves. I can be 10 rounds down and I’ll get him – it will only take one lapse of concentration.”
The 31-year-old Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) is fresh off winning the World Boxing Super Series’ cruiserweight tournament. The unbeaten Ukrainian impressively out-classed Russia’s Murat Gassiev in the final, which Usyk won by huge margins on all three scorecards July 21 in Moscow (120-108, 119-109, 119-109).
The 35-year-old Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) seriously contemplated retirement following his second stoppage of Haye (28-4, 26 KOs) in their May 5 rematch at O2 Arena. Once Usyk called him out after defeating Gassiev, Bellew jumped at the opportunity to pull off another upset.
“I’m gonna beat him,” said Bellew, a former WBC cruiserweight champ. “I don’t care what you say. … I’m gonna find a way. Believe you me, I will get to Oleksandr Usyk and break his heart and take his soul.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.