English cruiserweight Tony Bellew takes on what he acknowledges to be the toughest and most dangerous night of his career when facing Ukrainian undefeated superstar Oleksandr Usyk for an alphabet of world titles at the Manchester Arena on November 10.
Most close to the noble art give the Liverpudlian little, if indeed any, chance of pulling off a shock win and dethroning a man seen as the long-term ruler of the division but boxing is a sport littered with famous upsets.
Will Bomber create his own little piece of history before strolling off into the sunset or will he, as many expect, suffer a painful night before being forced to retire a broken man?
Bookmakers have certainly had their say and haven’t been slow in agreeing with the masses, pricing Oleksandr Usyk as a red-hot favourite. In fact, the 1/6 you’ll find at https://www.paddypower.com/boxing suggests the outcome of this bout is a foregone conclusion.
Does Bellew have any hope? It’s worth remembering the 35-year-old from Merseyside has carved a career out of upsetting the odds, beating fighters who were expected to walk through him with little resistance. The scalps of David Haye, Nathan Cleverly and Isaac Chilemba already hang from his belt.
Bomber prepares for round number 217 of his professional career with a record reading 30 wins against two defeats and one draw. Impressive, and it’s made to look even better when picking apart the numbers.
That spare draw comes from a 2013 split decision vs Chilemba, the scorecards reading 112-116, 114-114, 116-115. Tough, but there was nothing close about the rematch which took place just two months later, Bellew impressing on-route to a 116-112, 117-112, 116-112 revenge.
His two defeats are easily forgivable too. The first came at the hands of Nathan Cleverly in 2011 at light heavyweight. It wasn’t Tony’s preferred division, yet still he went down only to a majority decision. Again he avenged that, meeting Clev at the higher weight and beating him on a split.
Adonis Stevenson dealt out the other, but there were no arguments that time. The Canadian bashed his opponent into submission inside six rounds. Bellew admitted he was beaten by a better fighter.
So, what are the chances of him defeating an opponent with a top-notch amateur pedigree, 15-0-0 professional record and 73% knockout average? Bookies are confident enough to offer a chunky 9/2 on the Englishman with the draw an eye-catching 33/1.
If this bout follows the thinking of traders, it’ll end in a Usyk KO victory. That can be found marked up as favourite in the method of victory market, even money the best you’ll get. Bellew has halted each of the last four men placed in front of him and that makes the 5/1 about a repeat worth a second look.