Tony Bellew has picked former foe Oleksandr Usyk to defeat Tyson Fury, should they meet this year.
Fury and Usyk appear to be closing in on a showdown to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, with the former’s promoter, Frank Warren confirming to talkSPORT on Thursday that the fight will take place on April 29.
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported earlier this week that Usyk has agreed a deal with backers in Saudi Arabia, although ‘The Gyspy King’ is yet to do so and Wembley Stadium remains the back-up option should a deal with Saudi Arabia not materialise.
Bellew, who was stopped by the Ukrainian in 2018 in a challenge for the undisputed cruiserweight crown in Manchester, admits he has changed his mind on the outcome of the bout after initially leaning towards WBC champion, Fury.
“I’ve always thought Fury’s going to be too big,” the 40-year-old told JOE.
“But the closer this is drawing, I actually side towards Usyk.
“I actually think Usyk is the only one that can beat him.
“What I will say about Tyson Fury is, since linking up with SugarHill, his style has evolved massively. He is no longer a feather-fisted fighter. He’s a heavy-handed, pressure counter puncher.
“Thats’s the Kronk style that’s been implemented in him.
“I think it’s one of the best transformations I’ve ever seen in a fighter.
“I’ve always thought he’s gonna be a really huge, awkward heavyweight that is a nightmare to fight, but now he’s a big, awkward, dangerous heavyweight.
“He’s actually added strings to his bow, so I think he’s a brilliant fighter.”
Usyk has not fought since retaining his unified WBA ‘super’, WBO and IBF belts with a second victory over Anthony Joshua in August and the two-time world champion will look to become the first fighter since Evander Holyfield to become undisputed champion at both cruiserweight and heavyweight and the first in the four-belt era.
Former cruiserweight world champion, Bellew believes that Fury, who made a third defence of his title with a victory over Derek Chisora in their trilogy clash in December, believes he will face similar troubles as he did when he battled Steve Cunningham in 2013, in which the 34-year-old was forced to climb off the canvas, before stopping the American in the seventh round.
However, the Liverpool native anticipates a maiden professional defeat for the two-time heavyweight world champion when he meets the masterful 36-year-old.
“The only problem is, at that kind of weight and that kind of size, he’s always going to be a step behind Oleksandr Usyk,” he added.
“Oleksandr Usyk has got the greatest footwork in the world. His feet are just exceptional.
“I understand the theory of Fury being the favourite going in, but if anyone is going to beat him, it’s going to be Oleksandr Usyk, because he is quick enough to dart in and out all night. He is fit enough. He is sharp enough.
“To take his quote, the hardest he’s ever pushed was Steve Cunningham, a cruiserweight who dropped him.
“He dropped him, hurt him and Tyson Fury was really struggling with his style.
“If you think Steve Cunningham’s style is hard, wait till you f***ing get in the ring with Oleksandr Usyk mate, believe you me, because his style is just another level.
“He really is. He’s just exceptional.”