For one it is an opportunity of a lifetime, a defining night in the ring. For the other it is another day at the office, one with a grander stage than usual, but still a meeting that is set up as a showcase for future blockbusters. As for fans watching, it all depends which side of the fence you are viewing from.
This is the fight that will write the biggest headlines on ‘The Bomber’s’ career. Caught up in the hype from Sky Sports, they will view this as not only Bellew’s biggest challenge to date, but champion Oleksandr Usyk’s too.
From the viewpoint of most others, this is a combination of seeing one of the pound-for-pound best show off his full arsenal on the biggest stage, and wondering whether Bellew can produce the most unlikely of upsets, one that would have a great effect on the boxing world in the Cruiser and Heavyweight divisions.
In spite of Bellew twice upsetting the odds when beating David Haye in back-to-back meetings, this is not the toughest test of the short career of Usyk.
The undisputed WBC, WBA, WBO & IBF Cruiserweight ruler is in imperious form, and comes off the back of two unification wins in the World Boxing Super Series.
Usyk 15-0(11KO’s) kicked off the tournament when stopping Marco Huck, before adding the WBC title to his long-held WBO crown when edging the talented MairisBriedis.
The semi-final was close, but the final was far from it. WBA and IBF title-holder Murat Gassiev was utterly outclassed in all 12 rounds earlier this year. Usyk took the belts and the Muhammed Ali trophy without stepping out of 2nd gear in Moscow.
Bellew 30-2-1(20KO’s) has certainly improved since finally evacuating his title hopes at Light Heavyweight, where he had contentiously lost to Nathan Cleverly – he avenged that loss at Cruiserweight – while being stopped by a dominant Adonis Stevenson in 2013.
Bellew has a good win over Mateusz Masternak, while lifting the WBC Cruiserweight title when his dream night at Goodison Park was capped by a famous 3rd round knockout of Ilunga Makabu. BJ Flores was not deserving of his title shot just 5 months later, and was disposed of in 3 rounds.
Then came the pair of stoppage wins over Haye. The first was in the balance before a terrible injury to Haye’s Achilles left him basically immobile. Haye fought his heart out, but was eventually pulled out in the 11th.
Bellew then sealed the rivalry when stopping Haye in 5 rounds in May. No excuses from ‘The Haymaker’, but it was obvious that years of injuries had caught up with him, and his legs never looked steady enough to take punches from a fighter that had grown into his Heavyweight frame.
Now Bellew will cut down to his natural weight class, and should hope to bring that power below the 200lb limit with him.
But while Sky have reminded us a countless amount of times that writing Bellew off will be at your own peril, it is that slogan that really reminds us just how deep Bellew is in with the Ukrainian.
Besides a knockout blow being landed, we have heard very little – if anything – in terms of detailed explanations as to how Bellew is going to pull off the upset.
Usyk has looked off colour in some of his previous wins, but given the stage this fight has been given and the big fights around the corner under the Matchroom Boxing banner, Usyk is not going to take this one lightly at all.
Bellew is a class act, but expect to see the very best and most devastating version of Oleksandr Usyk this Saturday night.
Fighting on the road will not faze a man who has already dethroned three world champions in their backyards – Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland, Briedis in Latvia and Gassiev in Russia. Great Britain will be the latest to see one of the best on the planet in full force.
Bellew will not shy away at any point, but he will struggle from the off to get a grip on this fight. Usyk will use his excellent mobility when needed, while his output will once again raise eyebrows.
The sensible pick would be to take Usyk via late stoppage, having bamboozled Bellew for much of the fight, causing visible damage that would ultimately force a compassionate stoppage around the 9th.
But a bold prediction would be for Usyk to make a statement, landing at will from the early goings, dropping Bellew on several occasions before the contest is halted inside 4 rounds.
Either way, Usyk should retain his belts, highlighting his domination in the Cruiserweight division, thus setting up a new chapter as he seeks the same success at Heavyweight.