Former cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew has warned Anthony Joshua that Oleksandr Usyk is the best boxer he will ever fight.
Bellew is all too aware of Usyk’s ability, having suffered a knock out loss to the Ukrainian in his last fight in 2018, and has warned Joshua not to underestimate his opponent because of his smaller stature.
Usyk has won all 18 of his professional fights to date, although only two of them have been in the heavyweight division, where Joshua has spent his entire career.
Bellew was speaking to TalkSport about the upcoming heavyweight world title fight and stressed just how talented Usyk is.
Tony Bellew on Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk.
“This will be the best boxer Anthony Joshua will ever face in his career. When it comes to natural, pure boxing, Oleksandr Usyk is the most natural boxer Anthony Joshua will ever face,” Bellew said.
“He is unbelievable at what he does. Taking that into consideration, he is not a true heavyweight. Everyone keeps going on, yes he is a cruiserweight, but he is the greatest cruiserweight who has ever put on gloves.
“So he does come with an amazing skillset, but I just think weight divisions exist in boxing for a reason. Come rounds seven, eight and nine, he is going to find out why he is not a true heavyweight.
“I think Anthony Joshua’s speed, power and perseverance will be what catches up with Oleksandr Usyk.”
Oleksandr Usyk’s short time spent at heavyweight.
Usyk first fought professionally as a heavyweight in October 2019 and claimed a comfortable victory against American fighter Chazz Witherspoon.
His next heavyweight bout did not go as smoothly, however, as his fight against Derek Chisora went the distance, with the Ukrainian being declared the winner by unanimous decision.
While Chisora is certainly no pushover, Joshua will present a greater challenge to Usyk, who has bulked up considerably for his fight with the British heavyweight.
Joshua had of course originally intended on fighting Tyson Fury and not Usyk this year, but should he underestimate the former cruiserweight champion his plans for a heavyweight unification title bout could get scuppered.