TONY BELLEW has been warned by the world’s finest fighter that his next opponent will not only beat him, but that he will then go on to dethrone WBA, IBO, WBO, IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
The 35-year-old Bellew has accepted his toughest fight, against undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk on November 10, and Usyk’s long-term training partner Vasyl Lomachenko – widely considered the pound-for-pound best – is “convinced” he will continue to win.
Ukraine’s Usyk, 31, is already in contention to one day challenge Joshua, when even as one of the finest cruiserweights in history he will have to overcome potential physical disadvantages.
He is naturally significantly smaller than Joshua, but his compatriot and lightweight Lomachenko believes his talent is such that even the unified heavyweight champion is within his considerable reach.
Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), who signed a co-promotional deal with Joshua's handler Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, wants to challenge the hard punching world champion by the end of 2019.
Lomachenko joined Usyk at ringside at Wembley on Saturday to watch Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) stop Alexander Povetkin, and he told Press Association Sport: “Usyk can be very special, because he can beat Bellew and he can beat Joshua. It’s going to be a tough fight for both of them.
“[Joshua-Usyk] would be a very interesting fight for the fans, and for boxing. Even for me it would be very interesting. I’m convinced [he wins both], and he still has some way to go [before he shows how good he actually is].
“He has had a very good amateur schooling, and always takes fight preparations very seriously. Today he’s maybe too small, but in the next year he can gain mass and be exactly like these big guys.
“More opportunities have come for the Eastern fighters to show the West how good they are – that’s why we’re seeing this now.”