Tony Bellew has revealed that he would avoid Oleksandr Usyk, spar Anthony Joshua, and fight David Haye given the chance as he claims the Ukrainian is a completely different beast to fight.
Bellew was talking during a recent segment of iFL TV’s fight, spar, avoid series in which current and former pros are given three fighters who they must choose to fight, spar, and avoid. Talking to the popular YouTube boxing channel, he said: “Fight David Haye, spar Anthony Joshua, and avoid Oleksandr Usyk. It’s very simple. I know what would work and what wouldn’t from experience.”
When asked why he chose to avoid Usyk over Joshua, he responded: “To spar. Sparring doesn’t mean anything. It gauges ability, it gauges response, reaction times and distance but it doesn’t really mean much after that. Fight and sparring and two very different monsters and beasts.
“Trust me, I do know as well from that. Having been in a ring sparring and having been in a ring with him fighting two different beasts. After being in the ring with David Haye, sparring and fighting, two different beasts. I’ve never shared the ring with AJ but he’s just too big and too strong.”
Bellew fought Usyk in November 2018, in a fight, that Usyk described years later as his “toughest test” at cruiserweight. Early on, Bellew found success with a perfectly timed backhand that visibly troubled Usyk. However, the Ukrainian overcame the challenge and went on to brutally knock out Bellew in the eighth round.
Speaking to talkSPORT, ahead of the first fight, Bellew warned Joshua about the skills possessed by ‘The Cat’ and claimed that he will be ‘the best boxer’ he will ever face in his career, saying: “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. He is unbelievable at what he does.”
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‘AJ’ rematches Usyk on August 20 at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as he looks to reclaim his heavyweight belts. Joshua dropped the WBA (super), IBF, and WBO titles to his rival in September at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Since the fight, he has axed long-time trainer Robert McCracken and has recruited the services of Robert Garcia to head up his camp. Under Garcia, Joshua is expected to adopt a more aggressive approach to the second fight – which was severely lacking in the inaugural contest.