Oleksandr Usyk has the chance to turn the heavyweight division on its head when he challenges Anthony Joshua on Saturday night.
AJ was expected to meet Tyson Fury to unite the heavyweight titles this summer but the Gypsy King was ordered to pull out and take on Deontay Wilder in their trilogy clash instead.
WBO mandatory challenger Usyk has now stepped in as Joshua’s new opponent and the Ukrainan will pose a hugely tough test.
‘The Cat’ is unbeaten in his 18 professional bouts to date and saw off Derek Chisora last October.
And Usyk has earned the respect of many of icons of the heavyweight division – past and present – during his meteoric rise to the top.
The Liverpudlian, 38, has insisted that Joshua will NEVER face a better boxer in his career than Usyk.
“This will be the best boxer Anthony Joshua will ever face in his career,” Bellew told Jim White on talkSPORT.
“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. 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.
“I wish he would stop fighting my friends because I want to support him! I’m a huge admirer of him and I have so much respect for the boy, but he just keeps fighting my friends so I can’t support him.”
The Gypsy King thinks AJ has given himself a problem taking on Usyk.
“Now they’re left with Joshua stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Fury to the Daily Mail.
“I don’t think they [Matchroom] fancy the Ukrainian guy [Oleksandr Usyk] for the fight he needs in August. And with their DAZN deal, it looks now as if that will be their last fight with Joshua.
“Usyk is a southpaw, clever, technically very good. He’s smaller as a former cruiserweight champion but he handled Derek Chisora, who is physically tougher than Joshua.
“So while I’m absolutely confident of beating Wilder, I’m not so sure about AJ not losing his fight.”
Usyk beat Del Boy by unanimous decision after surviving an early onslaught back in November 2020.
But Chisora claimed the Ukrainian won’t scary many in the heavyweight division.
He told IFL TV: “The guy can’t punch. To be honest, he’s not a scare in the heavyweight division. Physically he’s not strong.
“I ate one of his best shots and it didn’t bother me. His output is good but he has no power.”
“All he did was run away. I was very disappointed. I thought we were in the professional game, not the amateurs.
“I pushed the fight, chased the fight, I did everything in the fight. All he did was run away.”
The Brit previously claimed that Usyk had what it takes to move up to heavyweight after hailing the Cat’s abilities.
He told Sky Sports back in 2019: “I’ve always thought he has a great chance because he’s so skilful.
“His defence is the most important thing as a cruiserweight moving up to heavyweight.
“You’ve got to be super tough or have a great defence, or punch extremely hard. Evander Holyfield was super tough – he was able to block, ride and parry punches.
“I punched extremely hard.
“Usyk is different – he is not a one-punch specialist, he throws clusters of punches. He is a southpaw so is tricky to hit clean. He punches from different angles.
“This will be enough to beat 90 percent of heavyweights but whether he can do it against someone who is 6’6” remains to be seen. It looks like he can.”
The Real Deal watched Uysk’s win over Bellew and gave his verdict on the Ukrainian following in his footsteps in moving up to heavyweight.
“It’s hard from the one fight to say I know everything about the guy, but [Usyk] finished real strong, and fights with sort of a laid back style whereas I was more aggressive,” said Holyfield to Boxingscene.com in 2018.
“He’s going 12 rounds, but I was conditioned to 15. Looking at their fight, Usyk throws short punches, but not so many combinations, and I think my hands are faster than Usyk’s.
“I thought both of them fought flat-footed, didn’t throw a lot of combinations or fight at a real fast pace.
“My thing is I’m a gladiator who is gonna bring it, looking to apply pressure and throw a lot of hard combinations. I would be trying to blast either one of them outta there.
“I’m going to be going body, head, and the body again, also hitting you from different angles to make the guy uncomfortable. And if you missed me, I was gonna make you pay.”