Malignaggi: Bellew Was Clever & Good; Usyk Was Very Frustrated

By Keith Idec

Paulie Malignaggi made sure Saturday night to tell Tony Bellew how smart he fought against Oleksandr Usyk.

England’s Bellew is more known for his grit and power than his boxing ability, but Malignaggi noticed how his approach versus Usyk disrupted the undisputed cruiserweight champion’s plan at points during their tactical battle.

Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs) was ahead on two scorecards when Usyk connected with a left hand that knocked out his tricky challenger in the eighth round (68-65, 67-66, 67-67).

usyk-bellew-fight (11)

Malignaggi, who called the fight from ringside for Sky Sports Box Office, broken down Bellew’s performance for during a post-bout interview in Manchester, England.

“I thought he played the cat-and-mouse game in a very clever way,” Malignaggi said. “And I was just telling him, ‘You know, people are gonna know you for your toughness and you’ve got a big punch and your heart. But tonight you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of because tonight you showed something that very few people give you credit for, but you have plenty of, and that’s that cleverness.’ He’s as sly as a fox in there, you know?

“And he was playing that cat-and-mouse game so precisely early in the fight, and he was making Usyk overthink. And I thought Usyk was very frustrated. And you can tell because he stopped feinting, he stopped doing some of the things that create the openings. But then, little by little, you started seeing the championship level that Usyk is on and started making the adjustment and getting there. But at first, he had this great champion frustrated, just on the cleverness and his experience.”

As well as Bellew boxed, Malignaggi doesn’t necessarily think the former WBC cruiserweight champion provided a blueprint for how to beat Ukraine’s Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs). The former junior welterweight and welterweight champ figures it’ll be difficult for other opponents to replicate how the 35-year-old Bellew went about their fight.

“I don’t think he’s as hittable as Tony showed,” Malignaggi said. “I think that was Tony’s cleverness, fighting in little spots, once in a blue, otherwise defending very well. I thought he played the cat-and-mouse game in a very clever way, because it’s very tough to fight Usyk that way. Most guys aren’t gonna be that clever. And if they’re gonna be that clever, some probably can’t be that good. Tony was both good and clever early on.

“It’s just, you know, he’s older. Usyk is a great champion and eventually a great champion will make the adjustment. And he made some good adjustments that I went over on the air, and that led to the closing of the show.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by whoseyourdaddy on 11-13-2018

[QUOTE=boxinggod101;19266560]Yeah I had Bellew ahead before the stoppage. he was clearly outboxing him in the first rounds. I was very surprised by that. They had a nice game plan[/QUOTE] 100% agreed, Yes Bellew was moving, and yes he was defensive…

Comment by PotentialToast on 11-12-2018

Usyk cut far more weight that Bellew late. Bellew go his weight down early. He just fought a better fighter. Great fight. Also met the mayor of Manchester - should be Labour leader.

Comment by Diego Rodriguez on 11-12-2018

[QUOTE=Robbie Barrett;19267068]Figuring out doesn't mean they aren't trying to win rounds. It just means they don't know how to until they do.[/QUOTE] His primary purpose wasn't to win the first few rounds it was to determine his opponents approach. How…

Comment by Robbie Barrett on 11-12-2018

[QUOTE=Diego Rodriguez;19267055]LOL! Many fights have a feeling out process. It was clear this is what was going on. I am not a huge fan of Compubox but it does help provide some context. In the first round here are the…

Comment by Diego Rodriguez on 11-12-2018

[QUOTE=Robbie Barrett;19267014]Why wasn't he doing more? Because he was getting countered. Not by choice. If he wasn't i guarantee he would have done more.[/QUOTE] LOL! Many fights have a feeling out process. It was clear this is what was going…

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